Anne Hathaway
(We Hope!)

This outstanding film version of the much loved musical boasts some of the world’s most talented actors, who also have lungs of steel. By allowing them to sing live on camera, director Tom Hooper captures some of the most emotional, powerful performances we've ever seen. We dare you to get out of the theater without crying for dear Fantine.

Les Miserables

Les Miserables begins in 1815, in Toulon, France, where we meet the bedraggled Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) on a chain gang, serving a 20-year sentence for stealing a loaf of bread.

Overseeing the prisoners is Javert (Russell Crowe), a severe man of the law who sees things in black and white. He releases Valjean, but reminds him that he is still on parole. With a criminal past however, Valjean is unable to get a job.

When Valjean steals from a humane bishop (Colm Wilkenson — who played Valjean in the original 1985 stage version) and gets caught, he is shocked when the bishop forgives him and tells police to let him go. This single act of mercy transforms Valjean into a man of grace and benevolence.

Les Miserables

The beautiful, yet desperate Fantine (Anne Hathaway) is an unwed mother making anguished choices so that she may send money to Monsieur and Madame Thenardier (Sacha Baron-Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter), innkeepers who are taking care of her daughter, Young Cosette (Isabelle Allen). Life in post-revolutionary France was harsh, and after losing her factory job, she is left with no choice but prostitution.

Valjean shuns parole and reinvents himself. When he learns that Fantine was let go from his very own factory, he takes pity on the ailing waif. He promises to retrieve little Cosette and take care of her as if she were his own.

Les Miserables is a treasure trove of visual and audio delights. Instead of recording the songs in a studio before filming and having the actors lip-sync to them, the actors wore earpieces to hear the music and then sang live on film.

Les Miserables

Anne Hathaway sings “I Dreamed a Dream” in a single take, providing the most heart-wrenching, impassioned, and haunting moments in the film. We all knew she could sing, but this performance is truly show-stopping. No mother will be able to watch this without bursting into tears.

Hugh Jackman plays a wider range of emotion, but it’s in his most vulnerable moments where he grabs us by the heart and squeezes until we think it will break. His love for Cosette is so huge, so engulfing, it changes his life, and the lives of the others around him.

Les Miserables

As the older Cosette, Amanda Seyfried’s giant cat eyes display her every emotion, supporting her dainty, angelic singing.

Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron-Cohen provide amusing comic relief as the wickedly coy shysters who not only prey on pretty Cosette, but on all of Paris.

Plucked from the stage version, Samantha Barks plays their daughter Eponine, who gracefully, sorrowfully croons “On My Own.” No doubt we’ll be seeing more of her in the future.

Bottom line: This powerful melodrama couldn’t be more exquisitely made, from the acting to the singing, to the lush visual palate. Warning: Bring a box of tissues and skip the popcorn because you’ll likely be choked up!

Photo credit: Universal Pictures


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Comments on "Les Miserables movie review: And the Oscar goes to…"

Minerva January 15, 2013 | 1:16 PM

I can't believe the negative comments! I felt only Javert was not strong. I've seen 3 stage productions - Toronto, Cleveland, Broadway (with Colm W.) and have repeatedly played the dvds for the 10th and 25th anniversary. Also have a cd version that I play in the car -- the point is, I am VERY familiar with other renderings, yet still found the movie powerful and delightful.

Karen January 01, 2013 | 6:02 PM

I was so looking forward to this movie as it is my all time favorite Broadway show. I am not so naive to think that they could recreate the feeling you get from live theater but the voices were just not good enough. Obviously Russell Crowe was the worst but even Hugh Jackman's voice was just not good enough. Colm Wilkinson who is in his 70's and played the bishop Jean Val Jean steals silver from and who is the original London and Broadway Val Jean sounded better than Jackman. I didn't hate it but it could have been great with better singers.

Beth December 31, 2012 | 8:54 PM

I LOVED this movie! I had no expectation, as I had no idea what the story was about, I just knew these amazing actors were in it. I thought the emotion the actors emitted was incredible! It was long, but it wasn't wasted time at all. The story was powerful. I can't wait to see it again.

Shanee December 31, 2012 | 12:41 PM

Looking at these comments, it seems like all the ladies LOVE the movie and the men, well, not so much. Are there any men who loved Les Mis?

Greg December 30, 2012 | 8:45 PM

Don't bother. I also stayed over an hour hoping I would be able to finally understand the hollow singing but gave up, too bad, good camera work.

Abby December 30, 2012 | 4:41 PM

The casting of Russell Crowe in this movie is absolutely perfect. As is every other actor in the movie. There is a moving emotional effect and a magnificence that is impossible to put into words.

Jane December 30, 2012 | 4:37 PM

Stunning is a word that doesn't do it justice. EVERYTHING is perfect. EVERYTHING. You are in an odd emotionally drained, gob-smacked state when it finishes and it doesn't leave you. It is haunting. Quite simply, this movie will go down in history as the greatest movie that has ever been made. I didn't even think I'd like it. There are no words; just go and see it.

jan December 30, 2012 | 4:17 PM

I loved this movie, I loved the actors, Out standing

Heri December 30, 2012 | 1:23 PM

I could not sit through the entire movie. I have always been a big fan of the book and the Broadway plays, but wow they did a terrible job in choosing the cast. I gave it about an hour and fifteen hoping a new character introduction would save the movie, despite all of the main characters voices being awful. Every new character led to a disappointment. Anne Hathaway, although not good, was the best out of the awful that I had seen, and clearly that doesn't get you through much of the movie. Save your money.

Andy in Atlanta December 28, 2012 | 8:58 PM

The biggest problem was the sound editing.... This was sung live on set... okay we all get the reasons for that and I mostly agree with them...however in the sound room they had a duty to make it sound more full... one voice can sound very hollow in a movie theater when not repeated from all speakers and meant to sound like it was coming from the screen (i.e. stage)... They lost a great chance of making the music more emotionally stirring in it's audience... the performances were great but this was not a concert hall so the fullness of sound was completely lost and IMHO it took away a lot.

Amy December 27, 2012 | 10:46 AM

I can't wait to see this movie!

Shanee December 27, 2012 | 10:27 AM

Megan, I agree with you on Crowe. I can only think director Tom Hooper wanted Javert to have a rough sounding, un-pretty voice to create a wide range of auditory experiences on screen. Also, it's a melodrama and makes sense to me that the villain might also have an ugly voice. On stage, all the actors must have sensational, trained voices or they couldn't perform 8 shows a week. On film however, there's a unique opportunity to utilize a lesser singer to create depth within his character.

Megan December 27, 2012 | 4:42 AM

I'd like to say I have been a huge huge fan of the musical Les Mis for years! And so being such a big fan and knowing this musical inside and out, I found myself shaking my head a lot throughout the movie. My boyfriend who knew absolutely nothing of the musical kept on looking over at me and laughing because he knew how horrible Crowe sounded (really bad choice in casting). Song's like "One Day More" and "Master of the House" were completely butchered and scenes and characters were switched up! However, for a person who is just seeing Les Mis for the first time would never notice any of these things. It wasn't the best movie of all time but it wasn't the worst either. It is not the pretty version of the songs but more of the emotional versions. I left the theater nit picking but I didn't completely hate it. There are some beautiful moments where you go "WOW!...I can't believe they pulled that off" and then other moments of just thinking to yourself "What is Russell Crowe doing in this movie!!" Overall, it is a good movie and I would recommend seeing it. If you are still skeptical, just wait for it to come out TV.

Shanee Edwards December 26, 2012 | 5:30 PM

Yes, BT, I did think Eddie was a wonderful Marius. I was really rooting for him during all the moments he was on screen. I think he isn't mentioned as much because Anne and Hugh were just so powerful, it's hard not to gush about them.

radz December 26, 2012 | 4:02 AM

I went to see Le Mis last night with great expectations, my personal favorite. Can’t say a good thing about it. Horrible camera work, every singer missed, crowe was worst, barricade scene was a joke, no big emotions just the same camera shot [to close all the time] with jerky camera - needed more establishing shots, Save your money I give it a 1 out of 10.

BT December 26, 2012 | 12:03 AM

Did Eddie play a convincing Marius? All the reviews I've read don't really mention him at all. I know the kid can sing but I'm worried this role might be too big for him. Can't wait to see it though.

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