Les Miserables, the film adaptation of Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel, is a tale of wretched despair, fury and love that manipulates the audience’s emotions. The story, set in post-revolutionary France in the mid-nineteenth century, follows the life of fugitive Jean Valjean as he runs from the fanatic Inspector Javert in an effort to start a new life and protect a young orphan girl, Cosette.
Out of all the movies I have ever seen, I have only cried at one. Les Mis made me feel as if I was actually part of the story. The music was performed with such passion and feeling, due to the much discussed, but overall breathtaking decision for the actors to sing all the songs live.
Many people doubted the ability of big name actors, such as Anne Hathaway, who played Fantine, and Russell Crowe, to sing and show the emotion of the characters in the book and on the Broadway performances. They were not disappointed. With every song, the cameras were locked on the actor’s face, showing every quiver of the mouth, every flash of the tears in the actor’s eyes.
Hugh Jackman, who played the main protagonist Jean Valjean, brought forth intense emotions in the audience. In my theater, viewers were jeering and booing when Javert, the main antagonist, was fighting Valjean. When Valjean cried, the audience did as well. When he was about to get caught by Javert, the audience was on the edge of their seats.
Part of the reason the actors were able to manage this extreme level of realism lies in the fact that they put so much into preparation. Jackman went without water for 36 hours in order to lose water weight around his eyes and cheeks to create the look of being a slave for 19 years. Hathaway lost 25 lbs and actually cut off all her hair for the movie. The actors devotion to the film will surely help project the film to the Oscars.
Whether you are a musical lover or simply like the occasional film, Les Miserables is a must see for everyone, from ages 8 to 80.