|Cosette (as a child)|
"Les Mis" is not for everyone...musical theater haters tend to view it as overwrought and melodramatic. I'm not one of those people...I have seen it on stage twice (the last time in 2010, at Jesuit High School) and I like the music. I had big expectations for this film. I would give it four out of five stars...maybe 4-1/2.
The digitally enhanced scenery and sets were suitably dark and depressing. The movie opens with prisoners trying to haul a shipwreck onto a dry dock...and continues in stark imagery. It's just not quite as easy to show Jean Valjean hauling a wounded Marius through the shit in the sewer on the stage, or to see the poor and destitute appealing to the aristocracy. After seeing the show quite a ways from the stage, I liked seeing the actors' emotions close up.
|Marius and Eponine|
Anne Hathaway did an excellent job as Fantine, and Hugh Jackman also filled the role of Jean Valjean well (although at times I found his vibrato a little annoying). Amanda Seyfried did fine as Cosette, although her singing voice is better suited for the songs of "Mamma Mia." Samantha Barks stood out in her role as Eponine (according to Wikipedia, others considered for the role were Taylor Swift, Scarlett Johansson, Evan Rachel Wood, and Lea Michele--oh my!!), and Eddie Redmayne was a romantic, heartfelt Marius. Helena Bonham Carter seems to be typecast recently as a comic villain--she and Sascha Baron Cohen played the roles of the obnoxious and ridiculous innkeepers Thenardiers.
For me, the film had two weak links. Number one was Russell Crowe, who seemed stiff and awkward in his role as Inspector Javert. I've never been a Russell Crowe fan, and I'm not sure why. He just didn't seem to be suited to or comfortable with his role, and as a result his torment was not as convincing as it could have been. The young man who played Javert in the Jesuit High School production had an amazingly deep, beautiful voice, and I felt that he was better suited to the role!
As one coworker/friend commented on Facebook after seeing the movie, "Did they sing their conversations back then?"