An avid musical fan, I was a little overexcited when it was announced that a film version of Les Miserables would be produced, with release for 2013. Having seen the show in the West End a number of years ago as an impressionable and sensitive fifteen year old, I was looking forward to seeing how Tom Hooper's version would pan out. Thankfully, I wasn't disappointed.
For those who aren't familiar with the story, it follows the life of a man called Jean Valjean in the midst of the French Revolution. After serving a number of years as a slave for stealing a loaf of bread, he is granted parole. Craving escape, he begins a life on the run and years later, appears again as the mayor of a small French town. It is here that he encounters young Fantine, played brilliantly by Anne Hathaway, a girl working at the local factory with an illegitimate child to support. Forced into prostitution, Valjean finds Fantine desperate, alone and dying. As she dies, he vows to take care of her child and begins another life on the run.
It is here that we are introduced to a whole host of characters at the heart of the French revolution. With talented newcomer Samantha Barks playing Eponine and Eddie Redmayne as young rebel Marius, the film becomes a dramatic portrayal of young people rebelling against the ideas that have been forced upon them. Combine this with themes of loss and love as well as a lot of singing, and well, you get the gist.
Overall, I was impressed with the production of the film. The cinematography is wonderful, especially when seen on the big screen, and the settings were chosen beautifully. Hugh Jackman was an unexpected surprise and gave a fantastic performance whilst Anne Hathaway's rendition of 'I Dreamed a dream' was enough to evoke emotion from even the hardest of hearts. Helena Bonham-Carter and Sacha-Baren-Cohen gave a little light-relief in their comical performance as the Thenardiers, generally playing to type and doing what they do best. The most disappointing casting of the film, however, was Amanda Seyfried as Cosette. Weak and girly, her performance was reminiscent of every other film she'd ever done- particularly Mama Mia! and left me feeling very disinterested in her as a character.
Les Miserables is definitely a film to catch whilst it is in the cinema. Whilst it perhaps isn't the best film for those with short attention spans (with a running time of two and a half hours long), it is an epic story backed by a wonderful cast and wonderful songs. I even went so far to purchase the soundtrack. If you're not a musical fan, do however, check out the 1998 film version of the same name, with Liam Neeson as Jean Valjean. Little known, but equally as fantastic.