It is a book, a stage musical, an album, a tenth/2th anniversary edition, video, DVD, a tee shirt, a mug and now, finally, it is a film.
The story by Victor Hugo, considered one of the greatest novels has been boiled down by Cameron MacKintosh into archetypal representations of redeemption, blind loyalty, young love, sacrifice, nationalism… oh, in short it has it all.
Inpector Javeret (Russell Crowe) looses parole breaker Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) so many times you wonder if is he not the ancestor of bmbling Jacques Clouseau. One act of kindness turns Valjean from a convict into a selfless and upstanding pillar of the community who would have rivalled Jesus Christ. Poor Fantine (Anne Hathaway) suffers more than a series of unfortunate events. On the upside her daughter Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) has a little more luck with the wishy-washy Marius (Eddie Redmayne) who is not sure whether he is more in love with France or this girl he saw in a crowd for a little more than a second. Then there are the nasty inn-keepers (Sacha Baron Cohen & Helena Bonham Carter) who are so rotten to the core I was surprised their limbs were not falling off and their daughter Eponine (Samantha Banks) who steadfastly know where her loyatlies lie.
At some stages I wanted to be back in 1992 when I atended the stage version but at other stages I was happy to be watching the film. You cannot beat the immediacy of the stage musical but the production values of the film are incredible.
The acting nearly comes in fourth place to the music, story and production simply because these characters are archtypes, though Anne Hathaway gives the best performance managing to act through the archetype and the songs and Hugh Jackman is a close second. This doesn’t mean the others did nor give good performances, they fit the epic musical style perfectly.
This is what happens when you boil a classic into a musical.
Nevertheless, it is a stirring, moving, spirit raising, tear jerking, and quite long musical. If you have seen the stage version you’ll love it. If you haven’t seen the stage version and you like musicals you will probably enjoy it. But please get back to me and let me know!
Edit: January 15 have woken up with a different Les Misérables song playing in my head for the last four days.