Film Review: Les Misérables

Tom Hooper’s film adaptation of Les Misérables is a slickly produced musical with great performances.

In nineteenth-century France, prisoner Jean Valjean breaks his parole in order to start a new life for himself. He is pursued by the persistent Inspector Javert. Meanwhile, factory worker Fantine is driven to extremes in order to secure the welfare of her daughter…

Based on the popular theatre production, this film adaptation of Les Misérables has a epic feel to it. The sense of tragedy of Victor Hugo’s historical novel (as the title suggests), is conveyed in this most recent adaptation. Fans of the musical will know exactly what to expect.

The first half of Les Misérables is stronger than the second half. The final third in particular feels rather weighed down, not helped by the running time of 157 minutes. Nevertheless, the film is very watchable overall. With its themes of conscience, poverty, love and authoritarianism, Hooper’s film is dominantly sombre with peaks of emotion. There is some comic relief, but this is minor in comparison to the hardship and loss that punctuates Les Misérables.

Visuals in Les Misérables are rich. The sense of poverty and grime does appear authentic, and contrasts well with the few scenes of opulence. The songs in the film are great, often feeling truly emotive.

Russell Crowe is the weakest of the main cast vocally. Hugh Jackman offers a strong performance as Jean Valjean. Amanda Seyfried is suitably delicate as Cosette. Eddie Redmayne is solid as Marius, while Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter provide the much needed comedy. It is Anne Hathaway, however, who steals the show with a fantastic performance. Both her acting and her vocal performance really stand out. Elsewhere, Samantha Barks provides good support as Éponine.

This film adaptation of the musical really should please its audience. Les Misérables is a great example of a theatre adaptation finely executed.