I absolutely loved the Broadway production of 'Les Miserables' created by Claude-Michel Schonberg, Alain Boubill and Jean-Marc Natel. I listen to the show's score in my car whenever I need to feel energized.
So to say I was really, really looking forward to seeing the film, is an understatement. I couldn't help but wonder...Would I be disappointed? Would the film version match up to the stage production and would the singers sound as great as the orginal London and New York cast?
For those of you unfamiliar with the story, 'Les Miserables' is based on Victor Hugo's monumental 1862 novel about a decades-long manhunt, social inequality, injustice, love and redemption.
Here are the clift notes...
Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) has served 19 years of hard labor on a chain gang for stealing a loft of bread for his sister's child, who was dying from hunger. He orginally got 5 years, but 14 years was added on to his unjust sentance for trying to escape.
Upon his release from prison, Valjean through a series of circumstances, jumps parole and becomes a very successful businessman, as well as a mayor of a small town.
Former prison guard, and now a policeman, Javert (Russell Crowe) is obsessed with finding Valjean and bringing him to justice. In fact the dude is so obessed that he spends 17 years of his life mercilessly hounding Valjean and tracking him from city to city.
Finally the two men meet at the barricades in Paris during the uprising of 1832.
But before that happens, Javier, Valjean adopts a small child, Cosette, the daughter of the dying Fantine (Anne Hathaway)an ex factory worker/prostitute.
As an aside, Anne Hathaway has gotten rave reviews for her performance. Personally, in my humble opinion, I think Miss H. sobs a way bit too much...especially when she sings one of the most beautiful songs in the show...'I Dreamed A Dream'.
Anyway...Valijean must first rescue the girl from an unscrupulous inn keeper and his wife...the very funny, Sascha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter.
Cosette grows up to become Amanda Seyfried and she winds up falling in love with Marius (Eddie Redmayne) a wealthy young man turned revolutionary.
To say anymore would spoil the fun and the film is fun...It's also exciting, touching, and quite spectacular, especially visually, thanks to Tom Hooper's brilliant direction, as well Danny Cohen's cinematography and Eve Stewart's production design.
'Le Miserables' is sung, the music is gorgeous and the melodies, haunting. Yes, it is three hours long, but for me the time flew by.
One of the biggest surprises is that Russell Crowe can sing. Of course not as good as Broadway musical star Hugh Jackman, but he doesn't embarass himself.
The supporting cast including Samantha Barks as Eponine, the innkeepers daughter, who secretly loves Maris, is excellent.
I gave 'Le Miserables' which opens on Christmas Day, 2012...4 1/2 bagels out of 5. Check out our video for John's score and some of our singing banter.
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Happy Holidays and let us know what you think about 'Les Miserables'