Movie Review: “Les Miserables” – Les Awesome

Written by Rachel Ganzewinkel December 30, 2012


“Les Miserables” is a musical based off of a French novel by Victor Hugo. The play is a classic and has finally been adapted for the screen. The story takes place in early 19th-century France and follows Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) as he starts off as a prisoner under the watchful eye of Javert (Russell Crowe) and moves to being a whole new man who promises to look after Fantine’s (Anne Hathaway) daughter Cosette (Isabelle Allen- and older Cosette played by Amanda Seyfried). This promise sets off a chain of events that leads to the rest of this stunning story.

Look Up, Look Up at the Beautiful Everything

This musical is epic. It takes place at a very restless time and has enough big group scenes to make it worthwhile to bring to the big screen. From the prisoners standing in the water, pulling in a ship in a storm to the final scene where everyone is gathered waving flags and singing one of the most beautiful, political anthem of a people standing up against a repressive regime; this story deserved a big budget and the abilities of location changes that only film can supply. The sets, costumes, hair, makeup, just everything, immerses you into the world of the impoverished in post-revolutionary France. This is a movie that represents the “99%” and the politics can be related to our modern times regarding the poor making a stand against a government or regime who keep the wealth all to themselves.

jackman and hathaway

Do You Hear the People Sing?

Since there is nothing wrong with the story (and I’m speaking for myself here since I adore this musical to bits), I am going to focus on the performances. Hugh Jackman’s voice is like his body- glorious. It is effortless and powerful and by golly, even at his most emotional, his voice stays strong and true. The same goes for Anne Hathaway. I can’t recall any cracks in her voice but even if they did happen it was because she was crying. Even so, her big belting moment in “I Dreamed a Dream” was perfect and soul crushingly beautiful. Amanda Seyfried plays the perfect cherubic, innocent beauty with her Soprano which reaches those almost-whistle tones. Eddie Redmayne (who plays Marius) is a newbie who put his ginger setting on “stun” and fired that surprising voice and pluckiness straight at us.

Down in the Dumps

While mostly everything in this movie-musical was amazing there are a few distracting aspects that took away from the movie a bit. One of those things being Russell Crowe’s voice. It was far too weak for the strong character he played and it sounded like he had a cold throughout the film because he basically sang through his nose the whole time. It was still an ok voice, but in “Les Miserables” I think you need a powerful voice to match the power and epic-ness of the story. Another thing was Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter’s characters Thenardier and Madame Thenardier. They are the people who were looking after Cosette before Jean Valjean showed up. Their introduction song, “Master in the House”, was fun, well-done, and served a purpose to show what kind of character’s they are. But when they continued to show up, being the silly undertone to a very serious musical, it became distracting and diverted from the main story while not adding anything necessary. You know what else is unnecessary? Having a never-ending close-up on an actor’s face for an entire song. It was such a distracting direction choice.

carter and cohen in les mis


This is certainly going to be an Oscar contender in the best costume, best film, and best director categories, and a hopeful in the acting categories for Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway. If you love musicals, see it. If you love “Les Miserables” on stage, see this, Tom Hooper (who directed “The King’s Speech”) certainly does this musical justice. And if you’re one of those awesome folks who sees every nominated movie before The Oscar’s, then see this. While it’s subject may be depressing there are glimmers of hope in individuals that are inspiring. Even at 2 and a half hours this musical (which is all sung) is engrossing, stunning, and tear-inducingly beautiful.

My Rating: 9/10

les mis movie poster

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About Rachel Ganzewinkel

Rachel loves movies and writing and has found the perfect amalgamation in writing movie reviews for We Eat Films. In between movie watching and the real-life world of work, she enjoys tea, reading, writing, and wearing over-size sweaters (while occassionally doing some of these simultaneously).

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