By Myah Guild
DUNSTABLE, Bedfordshire, England – Director Tom Hooper’s long-awaited adaptation of the consistently acclaimed novel and musical Les Misérables finally hit UK screens on January 11 and surely set the bar high for 2013 in film.
Following the life of convict Jean Valjean, played by Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables is a story of change and time as well as social injustice and revolution.Jackman’s portrayal of the felon pursued by Russell Crowe’s relentless Javert is simply outstanding and whilst Crowe’s singing is considerably weaker than his counterparts, his ability to convey the cruelty and complexity of Javert is a good distraction.
Hooper’s decision to shoot the singing live paid off enormously as the emotion of the songs resounded loud and clear. Individual voices could be heard in the crowd and the songs conveyed the central theme of human plight, whether hopeful or full of despair.
Most notably, Anne Hathaway, who played Fantine, delivered pure and simple brilliance in her highly anticipated “I Dreamed a Dream” scene.
Other memorable characters include Eponine, played by Samantha Barks – the daughter of the comical Thénardiers, who were played by Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter – whose unrequited love for rebel Marius, played by Eddie Redmayne, is another of the emotions the film explores, highlighting the extent to which song and music can convey the depth of human despair.
The pride of the British in the French story has again been renewed in this adaptation – Barks performed her role in the much-loved West End show before beating Hollywood actresses to the coveted role and Cohen and Carter’s characters also provide light relief to the story that pulls audiences through almost every emotion conceivable.
Above all, it is a story of morality that everyone can relate to, brilliantly told and shown by the man who brought the story of George VI’s intense struggle with stammering back into the public’s mind with the 2010 release, The King’s Speech.
The final scene in Les Mis has been known to warrant tears and applause, in equal measure, amongst audiences and with justice being a key part of the story, many will come away thinking if there is any, it will win the Oscars it deserves.