The critics haven’t been kind to Les Miserables; it only has a 70 on the tomatometer. They say it’s bloated, histrionic, overdone, and Russell Crowe can’t sing worth a damn. They are right.
Nonetheless, go see it. This is one great movie, and if you aren’t crying at the end you have no soul.
The story you know–Jean Valjean, Javert, Cosette, Fantine, all the usual suspects in Victor Hugo’s epic you read in high school. Or had to read in the original in French 3 in college.
The glory of this is in the execution. The music, of course, is wonderful. Director Tom Hooper broke with tradition and had the actors sing their songs live during the filming, lending an immediacy and presence that is ordinarily lost in movie musicals. Most of the cast are excellent singers, with the noted exception of Crowe, who looks and acts the part, he just sounds bad.
The standout is Anne Hathaway, who I think is a shoo-in for an Academy Award in the role of a lifetime. Thin as actresses are, she lost 25 pounds to play the emaciated Fantine and will rip you heart out with her rendition of I Dreamed a Dream.
Hugh Jackman, as Jean Valjean, is the rock Les Miserables is founded on. His singing is epic, his acting is excellent, he’s good looking, too.
Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter provide brilliant comic relief as M. and Mme. Thenardier, although I had difficulty understanding Carter in her first lyrics.
This is an epic of old: you’ll laugh!!! you’ll cry!!! Mostly cry. It’s a colossal tearjerker, yanking your emotions from pillar to post and back again. I left the auditorium exhausted.
I guess if you never saw Les Miz onstage, don’t like theatrics and have a heart of stone you might not like this film. But that’s 2.175% of the population I don’t care about. Everyone else, go see it.