Other than some strange casting choices and bouts of humor that seem a little bit forced, “Les Miserables” is a touching and lovely portrayal of the iconic characters. Emotion and heart bleed from the screen in many instances with some spectacular performances by some; however, there are unfortunately some rather mediocre performances that bring down the film.
For those that do not know the story, “Les Mis” is set in 19th-century France where Jean Valjean, who for decades has been hunted by the ruthless policeman Javert after he breaks parole, agrees to care for factory worker Fantine's daughter, Cosette. The fateful decision changes their lives forever.
The performances of a select few actors make the movie shine. Hugh Jackman, Samantha Barks, Eddie Redmayne and Anne Hathaway all have instances of brilliance in the film. Hathaway’s “I Dreamed a Dream” performance is heartbreakingly breathtaking. She is fantastic in this scene and has deservingly been nominated for a Golden Globe. Her role of Fantine may not be long, but she certainly proved that it is not the quantity of how much one is in a film to provide quality impact.
Hugh Jackman has a few instances where he is fantastic, as well. He most definitely deserves his Golden Globe nom for his role of the tortured Jean Valjean. Samantha Barks’ performance of “On My Own” is almost as heartbreaking as Hathaway’s “I Dreamed a Dream.” She draws the viewer in with her pain and loneliness, captivating the audience in the process. Redmayne’s final solo performance of “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” was a great performance, as well. The actors being able to sing as they were being filmed added an authenticity to the film. Director Tom Hooper was very smart in this choice.
Although there were multiple great performances, some were not as successful. The casting of Russell Crowe is truly perplexing. He was clearly not comfortable singing throughout the entire movie, especially in the smaller dialogue scenes. He did not act badly, but his voice was not at all right for the role. The instances of comedy with Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter seemed more forced than funny in the few instances of humor. The comedy was not incorporated very well into the otherwise extremely dramatic storyline. Some of the humor was funny, but it just seemed a bit off in the flow of the film.
Overall, the film is a huge success in the big numbers. They are performed perfectly. However, certain aspects of the storyline seemed a bit forced and Russell Crowe should have never been cast as Javert.