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Les Miserables Reviews

Our Review

Singing, singing and ... more singing

Adam Bub, MovieFix
Stop singing. Seriously, stop already. My head throbs with the same thought throughout the interminable 157 minutes that make up Les Miserables. It's like the characters are allergic to dialogue, and director Tom Hooper, who drove The King's Speech to Oscar glory, drowning under the admittedly ambitious task of adapting a much-loved musical for the big screen.

The demand for another screen version of Les Mis (there have been numerous telemovies, miniseries and movies) is definitely there. Based on Victor Hugo's classic 19th century novel about the 1832 Paris Uprising, the fully sung musical adaptation is the longest-running musical in history, running consistently on London's West End since 1985.

Its themes of hope, love, loss, redemption, social justice and revolution continue to strike a chord with audiences worldwide – more than 60 million people in 42 countries have seen the epic live.

Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) is a former convict who was forced to serve 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread. Breaking his parole, Valjean vows to change his life for the better, and becomes the mayor of a French town. Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe) will not let sleeping dogs lie, pursuing the reformed criminal, who has formed a bond with starving prostitute Fantine (Anne Hathaway) and her daughter Cosette (Isabelle Allen, and later, Amanda Seyfried).

Valjean vows to care for Cosette, removing her from the clutches of deceitful innkeepers Thenardier (Sacha Baron Cohen) and his Madame (Helena Bonham-Carter), and landing amid the poor's revolution against the monarchy.

The inherent problem in a virtually dialogue-free film musical is that the language of cinema deals in subtleties such as imagery, physical expression and actors' interpretations of scripts.

When everything is sung at high-intensity, ear-splitting melodrama, the characters lose their grounding in reality, the songs become one and the same, and the whole experience is frankly exhausting. Not to mention predictable – poor Anne Hathaway may as well just shriek "I am sad!" from the rooftops for 20 minutes straight.

On the plus side, Les Mis has a handful of note-worthy performances. Hathaway's impassioned 'I Dreamed a Dream' is the undisputed highlight of the film, made even more powerful by Hooper's decision to have the actors sing live rather than to recordings. Hugh Jackman fares well too, given his musical theatre background, while the comic relief from Baron Cohen and Bonham-Carter is a breath of fresh air amid the tragedy and trauma.

Surprisingly, Russell Crowe is disappointingly drippy in both voice and acting, missing the chance to create a movie villain really worth hating (and loving to hate).

Hooper should be praised for trying his hand at a notoriously difficult film genre. As a fan of movie musicals, I would like to see more directors take such a risk. With powerful performances, fine cinematography and some heart-tugging moments, Les Mis will please the fans, but leave others plain cold.

Watch the trailer now

Just how much weight did Anne Hathaway lose for Les Mis? View our new slideshow of stars who starve for movie roles to find out ...

Your Reviews

Tess
Tess
Some Aussies ancestors were sent here (Australia) by England for stealing a loaf of bread... think about it...flogged if they protested at the cruelty, starved, broke rocks while their legs were chained. Jean Valjean got off lightly...! Seriously, good production, better than the professional stage production I saw in Canada.
Jody
Jody
Absolutely loved it! Usually can't stand musical movies, but will definitely see this one again!! One of the best movies ever
betty
betty
Hated it. the singing was largely pathetic, it was over acted, and the actors were acting as if in a movie not in a musical. The focus was too much on their melodrama rathar than the beauty of the score. Maybe that was the intent to draw your attention away from their appaling singing. Hugh Jackman who I usually love was terrible for the singing of Jean Valjean. His voice was all wrong. Russel Crowe didnt even rate a mention. Anne Hathaway was probably the best, but she was so over acting it detracted from the performance. I actually ended up turning it off as I couldnt stand it anymore. I wouldnt waste my money going to see it if I were you. Instead go and hire the original on dvd and see how it should really be.
Trish
Trish
This movie is not what I expected. Normally I would hate singing in a movie but in this movie I hardly noticed it. The emotion was so enormous on the big screen....I have to say it was fantastic. I have recommended it highly. It was so much better than the stage play, something I didn't expect. At the end of the movie people stood up and clapped.
les
les
its awesome i love it people that dont love it suck
Dianne
Dianne
Loved it! So much emotion with truly talented characters. Havent seen any stage production of Le Mis before this, but had read the book twice. and singing nearly all the dialogue was so well done by all.
Trace
Trace
This movie was awesome, I really didn't want to see it but went for my daughter and i'm so glad I did. I would not be surprised if it wins a lot of awards this year. Truly a wonderful movie a must see. :-)
bandit
bandit
went to see weekend. having seen stage performances over 20 yrs several times was not sure about this. But i have to say what an incredible journey. what you don't get on the stage is the raw emotions of the characters which brought the words soul and belief. very rarely go and see a film twice, but agreed to see with other friends and i expect i will enjoy it just the same...maybe more.
Julie B, NSW
Julie B, NSW
Absolutely superb, all the cast are so talented, this one I will watch a second time. I went to theatre show 30 years ago and was not disappointed with this movie version.
Robert VA
Robert VA
Truly Inspiring. Why cant more movies be like this one. The performances in this movie are amazing. it will trigger all the emotions, from hilarity and cheer, to sadness and crying. Dont put off watching this amazing production, even if its not your thing cause you have no idea what you;d be missing out on. Amazing singing and characters are just a few of the great things you get to enjoy, you'll definitly find yourself talking about this one long after you leave the cinema. Having a theatrical background myself, I really enjoyed it and I can only urge you to not pass this movie up, you wont regret it.
Snowy
Snowy

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