I absolutely loved the Broadway production of 'Les Miserables' created by Claude-Michel Schonberg, Alain Boubill and Jean-Marc Natel. I listen to the show's score in my car whenever I need to feel energized.
So to say I was really, really looking forward to seeing the film is an understatement.
I couldn't help but wonder if I be disappointed? Would the film version match up to the stage production and would the singers sound as great as the original London and New York cast?
For those of you unfamiliar with the story, based on Victor Hugo's monumental 1862 novel about a decades-long manhunt, social inequality, injustice, love and redemption, here are the cliff notes...
Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) has served 19 years of hard labor on a chain gang for stealing a loaf of bread for his sister's child, who was dying from hunger. He originally got 5 years, but 14 years was added on to his unjust sentence for trying to escape.
Upon his release from prison, Valjean through a series of circumstances, jumps parole and becomes a very successful businessman as well as a mayor of a small town.
Former prison guard, and now a policeman, Javert (Russell Crowe) is obsessed with bringing Valjean to justice. The crazy dude devotes 17 years of his life, mercilessly hounding Valjean and tracking him from city to city.
Finally the two men meet, at the barricades in Paris, during the uprising of 1832.
But before all that happens, Valjean adopts Cosette, the daughter of Fantine (Anne Hathaway) ex-factory worker/prostitute who is dying. He promises Fantine on her deathbed that he will care for Cosette, as if she were his own.
As an aside, Anne Hathaway has gotten rave reviews for her performance. Personally, in my humble opinion, I think Miss H. sobs a way bit too much, especially when she sings one of the most beautiful songs in the show, 'I Dreamed A Dream'.
Anyway...Valjean must first rescue Cosette from an unscrupulous inn keeper and his wife played by the wonderful, Sascha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter. They are Le Miz's comic relief.
Cosette grows up to become Amanda Seyfried and she winds up falling in love with Marius (Eddie Redmayne) a wealthy young man turned revolutionary.
Too say anymore would spoil the fun and the film is fun. It's also exciting, touching, and absolutely spectacular, especially visually, thanks to Tom Hooper's brilliant direction, as well Danny Cohen's cinematography and Eve Stewart's production design.
'Le Miserables' is sung. There is no talking at all, but not to worry, the music is gorgeous, the melodies haunting and even though it's almost three hours long, the time flies by.
One of the biggest surprises is that Russell Crowe can sing. Of course not as good as Broadway musical star Hugh Jackman, but he doesn't embarrass himself.
The supporting cast including Samantha Barks as Eponine, daughter of the miserable innkeepers, who secretly loves Maris is excellent.
I gave 'Le Miserables' which opens on Christmas Day, 2012...4 1/2 bagels out of 5. This is a perfect holiday film.
Check out our video for John's score and some of our singing banter.
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