Les Miserables (2012)
It will leave you crying, if not openly weeping at times. While I don’t know if it will win, it should be nominated at Oscar time for best picture.
Rating: Can be seen on any screen, but you are missing it if you don’t share the moment with as large a crowd as possible.
Yes, I know that many of you beat me to see Les Misérables, but I just couldn’t bring myself to pull the trigger over the holidays. I was preoccupied with several demanding criminal cases that I tried to resolve in my real life, and I just had a bit of doubt about spending 2½ hours in a musical about France spanning 1815 to 1835.
Let me say that I was dead wrong, as this is a fantastic film. Sure, there is no dialogue in the entire movie, but there wasn’t in last year’s The Artist either, and it won the Oscar for best picture.
Additionally, this is without question the best musical since Chicago (2002) and Moulin Rouge! (2001). This captures the emotional force of both of those films, and rips your heart out with the passion evoked in Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge!.
Anne Hathaway may win a supporting actress nomination for her role as Fantine, a dying mother struggling to find someone to provide a home for her small daughter. Her singing is fantastic, and it is hard to believe that she was also so superior in a drastically different role in last year’s The Dark Knight Rises where she played Catwoman.
Hugh Jackman is a powerhouse as the escaped fugitive Jean Valjean. His attempts to outrun the authorities over the years as he cares for Ms. Hathaway’s daughter and makes his own way in the business world is moving beyond words.
And forget all you heard about Russell Crowe’s performance and singing as the nasty gendarme Javert, as he is spot on. Mr. Jackman may have a more brilliant voice, but Mr. Crowe’s growling is perfect as the heartless officer on the trail of Jean Valjean.
I should also note that Eddie Redmayne and Amanda Seyfried are quite convincing as two young Parisians who find love while manning the barricades during an attempted revolt against the national authorities in 1835. Their singing doesn’t miss a beat, and you will have tears in your eyes as Redmayne’s closest friends die in battle while Jackman saves him for a daughter that he must eventually leave.
You should also look for some very funny performances by Sasha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter. Playing a low-rent married couple functioning as petty thieves as they operated a back alley bar, they were both dedicated to little more than picking available pockets and making a sleazy dime wherever possible. With the exception of last year’s The King’s Speech where she played the Queen of England, has any actress in the history of Hollywood been better at breathing life into such a collection of hideous women with extraordinarily bad hair as Ms. Bonham Carter?
Good people die in this powerful film, including a little boy helping the rioting young people, and a woman sitting next to me in the theater was left sobbing uncontrollably. The ending surrounding the last visit between Ms. Seyfriend, Redmayne and Jackman is emotionally overwhelming by any definition. Wait until you see Mr. Jackman suddenly consoled by the appearance of the long-deceased yet appreciative Ms. Hathaway, and you might understand why so many people were left clapping at the end of the film.