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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Les Miserables (2012)

After being released from 19 years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread, a man (Hugh Jackman) resolves to bury his old identity and start life anew. But a police inspector (Russell Crowe) who believes criminals never change makes it his life's work to catch him and imprison him again. Based on the 1980 international musical success, over thirty years later it finally reaches the screen and it was well worth the wait. Overwhelming about sums it up, perhaps the first genuine musical Epic. The director Tom Hooper (THE KING'S SPEECH) and his screenwriter William Nicholson (GLADIATOR) have eliminated all dialog so that the film plays out like an opera, entirely sung. It's as passionate and grandiose as an opera so it's a good thing as the insertion of spoken dialog, song, dialog, song, dialog etc. would smash the fluidity of the material. Hooper's idea to use actors rather than singers and have them sing "live" as opposed to lip syncing to pre-recorded tracks (the norm on movie musicals) is inspired as it allows the actors to control the moment rather than be locked in to a pre-recorded track allowing reality rather than artificial perfection. The cast is uniformly excellent: Jackman gives a career best performance, Anne Hathaway will break your heart (the audience broke into spontaneous applause after her I Dreamed A Dream), even Russell Crowe rises to the occasion. With Eddie Redmayne (excellent and what a set of pipes), Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, Amanda Seyfried, Samantha Barks, Daniel Huttlestone and Colm Wilikinson. After the film was over, I've never heard such loud and sustained applause at a film as this.

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