By Gabrielle Gesek
The highly anticipated “Les Miserables” did not fall short at the box office, bringing in over $9.6 million. “Les Mis” continued its success at the recent Golden Globes where the movie was awarded Best Comedy/Musical. Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway claimed Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress for their roles in the film.
The timeless tale of broken dreams and unrequited love recaptured the world’s attention with a star-studded cast, with Russell Crowe and Amanda Seyfried joining alongside Jackman and Hathaway.
Tom Hooper, the director of “Les Mis” and the Academy Award winning movie “The King’s Speech,” selected a cast of actors who can clearly carry a tune, but are not necessarily trained vocalists. Hooper makes the point of having his actors sing live on set, without any prerecording, to ensure an authentic connection to the audience through the imperfections and reality of live singing.
Every actor pulls his and her weight in the film. It is seen through the heated fury of Crowe and Jackman, singing back and forth against each other as Javert and Valjean, raising the bar with each note they belt. On the contrary, it is apparent through the sincere sorrow streaming from the quivering lips of Hathaway as Fantine, Cosette’s dying mother.
Hathaway’s “I Dreamed a Dream” is perhaps the most powerful moment of the film. Hooper shoots the scene in one continuous take so the camera never cuts away from the intense combination of Hathaway’s vocal and facial emotion.
Hooper even goes so far as to shoot Hathaway on the edge of the frame as if to convey to the audience that even the camera is too ashamed to look directly at her. Hooper’s careful attention to the intricate details of the film truly is what sets “Les Mis” apart.
While having to sit for 157 minutes in a crowded movie theatre seat may have been a deterrent for some, once the movie started there were no thoughts of leaving. Even with the heavy length of the film, some of the scenes felt rushed as there was such a plethora of content to be presented while still keeping the attention of the audience.
The emotional leverage of the raw history and gruesome reality of the French Revolution left audiences in tears. With much hope lost and gained in the film, there was nothing left to grasp but the catchy song of the revolution at the end playing over and over.
Hooper was perfect as director because of his ability to pull raw emotion out of his actors. Jackman’s natural charisma allows Valjean to become a much more sympathetic and relatable character, while Hathaway’s naturally delicate demeanor makes her perfect for the fragile state of Fantine.
Seyfried was great in the role of Cosette as her gentle femininity gained the hearts of the audience as well as the heart of Marius played by Eddie Redmayne.
From the camera angles to the purity of the music and performances, “Les Miserables” is a must-see holiday film.