Title: Les Miserables
Genre(s): Drama, Musical, Romance
Director(s): Tom Hopper
Release Year: 2012
Rotten Tomatoes: 70%
The King’s Speech was one of my favorite films of 2010, bolstered by an incredible performance from Colin Firth and a heartfelt story of overcoming adversity. It managed to be both a beautiful looking period piece and tell a story worth telling, one that made me feel for the main character in ways I never thought I would. So following that, Tom Hooper decided to tackle the story of Les Miserables and adapt it into a massive musical production, one that would attempt to blend drama and music like never before, forcing the emotion out of every viewer. And the film would very well have done that if not for some missteps in its execution and a very predictable script. Les Miserables has the epic feeling it seeks in both its beginning and ending, but everything in between is a muddled mess of redundancies, inconsistencies, and a blatant disregard of the viewer’s ability to comprehend basic characteristics of film.
Les Miserables takes place in the early 1800s, with the French Revolution serving as a backdrop to a lot of the drama on screen, until the third act of the film. The film opens strong with a beautiful, and chilling scene on a boat with convicts as Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) is released on parole by Javert (Russell Crowe). Already the film is moving in the right direction with a great rendition of “Look Down” that demonstrates the talent on display and just how Tom Hooper’s decision for live singing adds an incredible amount of volume to the already powerful songs. Valjean decides to try and start a new life under a new identity, but once discovered, is hunted by Javert throughout the duration of the film. Meanwhile, Valjean saves Fantine (Anne Hathaway), a prostitute, from arrest and vows to take care of her daughter Cosette (played by Isabelle Allen until the film flash forwards to 1832 and Amanda Seyfried plays the older version). Once it’s 1832, the French Revolution plays a bigger role in the story by moving itself to the foreground as revolutionaries plan to make a stand for the poor. The movie may open strong, but once Anne Hathaway’s beautiful version of “I Dreamed a Dream” is sung, everything takes a nosedive.