Film Review: Les Miserables (in other words Lovely Ladies … shame about Russell Crowe)

First things first – I really enjoyed this. I don’t want anyone to think, for a minute, that I didn’t.

But it didn’t rock my world the way I was hoping it would.

The casting, for the most part, was inspired and Anne Hathaway has earned all the praise that has been heaped on her, she was stunning. As were the actresses who played Cosette and Eponine (Amanda Seyfried and Samantha Barks respectively) and Helena Bonham-Carter was brilliant as Mme Thernardier.
I was also very impressed by Hugh Jackman as Val Jean and, for the first time since Michael Ball, I actually liked the casting of Marius – Eddie Redmayne fit the role very well.

The cinematography was also excellent and I liked how they had tweaked the script to suit the format (the little touches from the book, like Marius’ lodgings, really did add something) but somehow it still didn’t have the magic that seeing it at the West End provides.

I think it actually felt too real in parts, for example my suspension of disbelief for Marius’ survival after the barricades was gone the instant he was dropped into sewer water – he’d have died of blood poisoning even if they could have got the bullets and shrapnel out – yet I’d never thought about it in the seven times I’ve seen it on stage.

And then there was Russell Crowe. Oh, he looked the part of Javert to a tee but when he sang … he isn’t a bad singer, it’s just that there was no intonation, no varying of emotion, no pull in his voice. Which was a problem for me given that Stars is actually my favourite song in the whole musical.

Yet it still made me cry in a lot of places (I took many tissues and got through them all) and the ending was sublime – I think everyone in the cinema clapped – and I left feeling that curious mix of sadness and euphoria that it has always stirred in me. It’s just that the feeling wasn’t as powerful as it is in the theatre.

I’d still watch it again though. Probably will, lots of times, as soon as it comes out on DVD.

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