Movie Review: “Les Misérables”

Published by Clay Cane on Monday, December 17, 2012 at 11:00 am.

(Photo: Universal Pictures)

Summary: Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) is an ex-con on the run and under the suspicious eye of evil policeman Javert (Russell Crowe). When factory worker Fantine (Anne Hathaway) loses her job and becomes a prostitute, Valjean agrees to care for her daughter, Cosette — drama ensues with a whole lot of singing.

Review: Les Misérables is the world’s longest-running musical and an ambitious choice for an adaption to the big screen. Directed by Tom Hooper, one can’t deny the flick’s beauty.  However, Les gets tiresomely lost in its own hullabaloo: Grand numbers, over-the-top special effects and performances that scream, “Give me my Oscar!”  Wildly self-indulgent at a whopping two hours and thirty-eight minutes, how much of Les Mis can one really take? Even the musical slips in an intermission. Les Misérables isn’t for your viewing pleasure, it’s strictly for awards season.

All of that said, Les Misérables is not a bad film. It’s probably as good as a musical set in the epic poverty of 19th-century France could be. Anne Hathaway has her “And I Am Telling You” moment when singing “I Dreamed a Dream” as Fantine, factory worker turned hooker. Her performance of the torch song will certainly go down as one of the best renditions of a musical number in movies. The future Oscar-winner is the high-point of the film, but when her character disappears there isn’t much left.

Hugh Jackman’s performance is undeniably powerful and he clearly wants his Oscar. There is also an awkward Russell Crowe busting out show tunes. He looks laughably out of place at times but, overall, surprisingly makes the character work. Other notables are Amanda Seyfried, Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen (Bruno!). Still, much of the flick’s alleged passion is drowned in Hollywood shenanigans — we needed more grit and less shine.  Yes, Les Misérables delivers stunning moments, but there is more pomp and circumstance than needed heart and soul.

Les Misérables is in theaters December 25.

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