We’ve seen some good musicals over the years, sound of music anyone? And we have also suffered the downright lousy…not mentioning any names but across the universe had me spitting feathers and now Oscar loving director responsible for The Kings Speech has an A-list cast singing for their supper.
It’s no small feat for a director to attempt to grapple with the epic tale that is Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, yet that didn’t stop Tom Hooper pulling out all the stops to offer up the story of a hungry man stealing bread to feed a starving audience.
Les Miz as it’s commonly referred to is the longest running musical in the history of all things singing and dancing. Set in 19th century France you can expect a tale that jerks tears, fears and joy without stopping to pause for breath. Hooper has been praised for taking the gamble of allowing his actors to go full on Broadway style with live singing for the cameras as opposed to fine tuning their voices beforehand. The result is a true revelation in musical cinema history, even if Crowe does sometimes fail to sustain a note.
The cinematography is unflinching in its attempt to depict the poor and destitute era of Paris, the overwhelming close-ups may have you grimacing but the grime and the squalor should be applauded as Hooper manages to successfully wipe clean the glamour of Hollywood.
Anne Hathaway steals the show as the prostitute Fantine and her live rendition of I dreamed a dream may have you weeping into your popcorn if you are inclined to suffer a stab of sentimentality. The live singing hits a pure poignant moment as Hathaway manages to bleed emotion and raw prowess into every note. The singing cast won’t be winning any X factor polls but Hooper has made an ingenious decision to have it all live as it only serves to further your belief in the characters. The cast of Le Miz would have been suffering tears and downright misery and lets be honest who can hold a falsetto note when choking back sobs?
Hugh Jackman swaps the claws of Wolverine for the bearded lead role of beloved Jean Valjean whose bread stealing crime lands him deep in the doghouse with obsessed lawman Russell Crowe. Without a doubt Jackman knows what he is doing and manages to hold his own on when blending Broadway with the big screen.
Despite its success the film is not perfect. Sometimes you simply wish for the characters to converse with actual words as opposed to endless singing. Sometimes you cringe at the overbearing unsubtle nature of the epic tale. Sometimes you wish you could just stop gripping the cinema chair and relax rather than witness the wailing onscreen. Yet overall the silver screen version of Les Miz has some notes of worth and some of lesser value. Without a doubt its worth a watch otherwise when it comes to the Oscars you will be left cold wondering what all the fuss is about.