Review Roundup (12/14): 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.
The movie premiered earlier this week in New York City, and you can check out what the critics are saying below!
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.
Scott Chitwood, ComingSoon: For those like me who don't regularly watch musicals, it does take a while to get used to everybody singing all of the time. There are no breaks here where characters deliver lines of dialogue. They sing every single line in the film. Fortunately the film is kicked off by Hugh Jackman and he sells it well. Jackman comes from a theatrical background, so he's in his element here. It doesn't take you long to roll with the musical thing. And the fact that they filmed the singing live on set and not with lip syncing to a pre-recorded track adds an interesting dimension to it. This is especially the case as they do long takes with all of the actors. The end result is something different yet interesting.
Grant Rollings, Sun Online: Because Tom Hooper has embraced the musical like no other director before. All the cast sang live on set, which produces an intensity of emotion missing in films such as Chicago. The moment Anne Hathaway's sunken yet angelic face fills the screen, as she sings I Dreamed A Dream with her voice cracking while it tastes a Mississippi sized tear, is one I won't forget.