Review Roundup (12/19): LES MISERABLES Movie
Christmas can't get here fast enough, because that's when LES MISERABLES hits the big screen. LES MISERABLES is the motion-picture adaptation of the beloved global stage sensation seen by more than 60 million people in 42 countries and in 21 languages around the globe and still breaking box-office records everywhere in its 27th year.
Helmed by The King's Speech's Academy Award-winning director, Tom Hooper, the Working Title/Cameron Mackintosh production stars Hugh Jackman, Oscar winner Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Aaron Tveit, Samantha Barks, with Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen.
Check out what the critics are saying below!
Scott Foundas, Village Voice: On stage, Les Mis has about as much to do with Hugo as Rent has to do with Puccini, but it has undeniable kitsch appeal, with its own literal pièce de résistance-an enormous rotating barricade-in lieu of Phantom's plummeting chandelier. On screen, there are fewer pleasures, though the opening moments are undeniably impressive in an old-fashioned, epic-monolithic way, as the camera drifts up from underwater to reveal Valjean and a chain gang of prisoners hauling an enormous ship into port under the crash of waves and the glower of the police inspector Javert (Russell Crowe).
Matt Pais, RedEye: The first third of this two-and-a-half-hour film moves swiftly, muting emotions amid a pace that flows from one song to the next to the next. Yet if you think a musical can't make you feel something, or if on-the-nose lyrics can never resonate, "Les Miserables" is the movie to change your mind. Whether it's Hathaway registering Fantine's anger as hope tears into nothingness or Redmayne and Barks collaborating on the gorgeous "A Little Fall of Rain," it's hard to deny several moments that showcase the musical form in top condition.
Mike McGranaghan, The Aisle Seat: Knowing he has a powerhouse cast with which to work, Hooper carries out the musical numbers in ingenious, effective ways. As Valjean sings about his search for religious guidance, the director has Jackman pace back and forth through a church, moving more frantically as his desperation grows. The "Master of the House" sequence is played for comedy, with Baron Cohen and Bonham Carter hamming it up amidst a barrage of visual jokes.
Mark Ellis, Schmoes Know: The novel-turned-broadway play is now a movie musical, and if you're a fan of musicals, you'll love "Les Miserables". That statement also acts as a disclaimer, because anyone not in love with the idea of constant singing won't be swayed by the Tom Hooper-directed incarnation. Luckily, I'm not in that camp and was thrilled to see this epic film come to life. Easily one of my favorite films of the year, this "Les Miserables" features award-worthy performances, breathtaking cinematography and storytelling that will have willing audiences spellbound for almost three hours.
Clay Cane, BET.com: Anne Hathaway has her "And I Am Telling You" moment when singing "I Dreamed a Dream" as Fantine, factory worker turned hooker. Her performance of the torch song will certainly go down as one of the best renditions of a musical number in movies. The future Oscar-winner is the high-point of the film, but when her character disappears there isn't much left.
Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out NY: In Tom Hooper's powerhouse film version, Anne Hathaway, as the ruined Fantine, demolishes this number, live-singing a single, Falconetti-worthy take choked with pain and fierce regret. (You can only imagine the rioting on 45th Street had she been less than perfect.) Just for this small piece of movie magic, instantly iconic, the big-screen Les Miz is a triumph.
Luke Y. Thompson, Nerdist: From what I've gleaned of Les Miz peripherally, it seems like the Lord of the Rings of musicals - an epic play everybody's been waiting to see turned into a massive-budget cinematic magnum opus. And it has been, indeed. From the opening shots of a gigantic ship being towed into dock by slaves on ropes to its finale in the French revolution, this is not a movie that does things by half. Even in the smaller, intimate moments, the camera stays put on actors who sing their hearts out as they attempt (mostly with success) to make their voices and emotions the equal of all the special effects exploding all around. Yes, it's bombastic, unironic, and quite clearly expensive. If you can't accept that, it's not the movie for you. But if you can take in the film's operatic world as presented, you'll be taken on a ride well worth the assaults on your senses.
Karen D'Souza, Mercury News: And if you are in the mood for a good cry (or three!), rejoice. Your eyes may well be red for days after this relentless tear-jerker. Oscar-winning director Tom Hooper ("The King's Speech") stays very true to the muckraking spirit of Victor Hugo's 1862 novel, its harrowing denunciation of a society that oppresses the many to benefit the few.
Stephanie Zacharik, Film.com: Only Hathaway's defeated and demoralized tragic heroine Fantine, in the killer show-stopper tearjerker "I Dreamed a Dream," manages to claw her way toward anything resembling true emotion. Her features - the Paul Klee eyes, those pillowy cracked lips - are large enough to stand up to the hyperbombast that surrounds her.
Simon Reynolds, Digital Spy: For all Hooper's showy direction the film's standout sequence comes in one unbroken take, a close-up of the shaven-headed Fantine belting out 'I Dreamed a Dream' as her voice falters and tears stream. It's utterly heartbreaking, and you instantly feel like this is a moment that people will cite for the rest of her career. An Oscar nomination surely awaits.
Richard Corliss, Time: The problem is that Hooper extends the ploy far beyond its usefulness to virtually every aria. In Valjean's "Soliloquy" and "Who Am I?" the camera strenuously backpedals as Jackman strides toward it. His voice goes fortissimo with the songs' emotion, as if he needs to be heard by someone in the third balcony, yet he's nose to nose with the viewer. So many of the numbers in Les Miz have the impact of a stranger shouting in your face. That might be forgivable if the screen were of YouTube size, but this is for movie theaters
Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly: It's a daunting challenge, to be sure, to turn a big musical into a viable movie. For every great Cabaret, My Fair Lady, and The King and I, there's a dud Rent, Evita, and Mamma Mia! But this steam-driven military weapon of an enterprise is a sobering reminder of just how tinny a musical LES MISERABLES was in the first place - the listless music and lyrics by Alain Boubil, Claude-Michel Schönberg, and Herbert Kretzmer, the derivative characters fashioned from Oliver! scraps.
Christy Lemire, Associated Press: Tom Hooper's extravaganza, big-screen telling of the beloved musical "Les Miserables" is as relentlessly driven as the ruthless Inspector Javert himself. It simply will not let up until you've Felt Something - powerfully and repeatedly - until you've touched the grime and smelled the squalor and cried a few tears of your own.
Nicole Christine, Independent: To say that Les Miserables is going to be a hit is putting it mildly. Unlike the opening night of Trevor Nunn's Barbican production, which produced poor reviews but staggering box office, this new production - which gives the characters of Jean Valjean, Fantine, Cosette a forever life - is going to go down in history for the way it tells a musical tale on the big screen.
Sydnee Watlow, Daily Mirror: Russell Crowe is a solid, uniformed presence as brooding baddie Javert while opposite hunk number Hugh Jackman is conflicted and formal (but not stuffy) as he smoulders as the heroic Jean Valjean - even after we are introduced to him in a prison camp. Anne Hathaway looked striking too - but her performance had even more impact. She is stunningly good as the tragic Fantine.
Drew, McWeeny, Hitflix: It's interesting to see very different performance styles up against each other in the film. Jackman, as I said, is at home here, and he gives a wonderful performance as Valjean. He plays the anger, the sorrow, the brief moments of joy, all with nuance and skill, and his voice is fantastic. Eddie Redmayne is probably the big revelation of the film, and he has a great singing voice as well. Seyfried is very pretty as Cosette, and she's got a sweet little trill of a voice, but as is often the case with "the love interest," she's very underwritten, and it's a tough role to make interesting. Samantha Barks actually fares better with her brief turn as Eponine, and much of the cast scores even in small moments. Perhaps the most controversial casting decision in the film was Russell Crowe, and it's true that he doesn't have the same sort of musical theater background as Jackman.