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Movie Review: ‘Les Misérables’

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Movie Review: ‘Les Misérables’

Coming from one who does not particularly care for musicals, “Les Misérables” was highly enjoyable. This new version of the classic Broadway musical not only contains the definitive story that everyone loves, but it also features excellent casting choices and, for the first time, live singing.
Set in 19th Century France, “Les Misérables” follows Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) a convict hunted by a merciless inspector, Javert (Russell Crowe), after Valjean breaks his parole. However, the chase is forever altered when Valjean takes Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) into his care following her mother’s (Anne Hathaway) death.

First and foremost, the story of “Les Misérables” is fantastic due to the complexity and depth that it offers. The chase between Valjean and Javert provides audiences a fight between good and evil. The love triangle between Cosette, Marius, and Éponine presents the audience with romance. Finally, the attempted revolution offers action junkies fighting and adventure.

To make the story remain unforgettable, “Les Misérables” contains near perfect casting. Each character brings a distinctive voice and unique talents to the film, increasing variety and viewing pleasure. The only choice that I found to be shaky was Russell Crowe as Javert. In the beginning of the film, Crowe sounded rough. This quickly subsided, though, as Crowe became more immersed in the role.

Traditional musicals contain a choreographed soundtrack that is added to the film in post-production. Director Tom Hooper’s “Les Misérables” features live singing where the actors sing in front of the camera in a realistic manner. This helps develop the tone of the film as well as allow the audience to gain some insight as to what the characters are feeling.

Though the live singing gives “Les Misérables” uniqueness, it has drawbacks. The entire film is in song. This takes away from the plot because there are times when the audience must strain to hear the sing-song dialog between characters. In moments of plot importance, song can be used, but for the sake of the audience, normal dialog is essential.

I recommend that anyone who enjoys classic films or musicals see this film. The theater I was in gave the film a standing ovation.
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