Director: Tom Hooper
Nominated: Best Picture; Best Actor; Best Supporting Actress; Production Design; Costume Design; Make-up & Hair; Original Song; Sound Mixing
Although I came to Les Mis fairly late I am a huge fan of the musical and know the numbers inside and out. I was both excited and at the same time cautious when they announced a musical was to be put on the big screen. Thankfully my fears and worries were for nothing. Tom Hooper has done a marvelous job of translating one of the best-loved stage musicals to the big screen.
I love that Hooper has included a number of the actors involved in Les Mis on stage throughout the years most noticeably Colm Wilkinson, the original Jean Val Jean, as the Bishop and Killian Donnelly as Combeferre.
Russell Crowe is pretty surprising as Javert although he’s not quite a strong enough singer in some instances. Having said that he is more than powerful enough in his character to play the dogged police inspector.
The costume design utilizes the costumes already associated with the story from the stage while at the same time creating a new look for the film. The film uses a slightly more muted color palette than the stage show but then it has the luxury of being able to do so. On stage the colors need to be more vibrant in order to be seen throughout the theatre. Key components of the iconic costumes have been kept and expanded upon like the iconic rosettes and Enjolras‘ jacket. Cosette’s clothing is sumptuous befitting her position as the Mayor’s daughter. The best costumes in my opinion are those of the Thenadiers, and probably the most complex as they are forever adding to their costumes with the various items lifted from their unsuspecting victims.
Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen are hilarious as the Thenadiers, the much-needed comedic element in an otherwise fairly depressing story. They have excellent chemistry, each complimenting the other well. And as we all know from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007, Tim Burton) they are both surprisingly good singers.
Some of the lyrics have been changed ever so slightly – Val Jean has no brand so the lyrics “no more bourgeois when you scratch him than that brand upon his chest”, no longer makes sense. And then there is the new song “Suddenly” which is up for Best Original Song. I personally think it fits well and gives us an insight into how Val Jean feels at having adopted Cosette and instantly become a father.
Hair and make-up did a stellar job especially on the lovely ladies who frequent the dockside. Hugh Jackman is almost unrecognizable at the start of the film as the downtrodden convict 24601.
While everyone was incredible I was not entirely sold on Eddie Redmayne as Marius (I seem immune to the charm he has that has seduced so many others) or Aaron Tveit as Enjolras. Killian Donnelly would have been a much stronger Enjolras as he already knew the part inside and out having played the role on stage for years. And don’t give me all that tosh about him being an unknown because they went ahead and cast Samantha Barks, an unknown when it comes to film but not to Mis fans, as Eponine. She was stunning! Definitely the best person for that role. You really feel every note of pain and longing in her voice. Her “Little Fall Of Rain” was one of the standout moments of the film and reduced me to even more of a blubbering wreck then I already was by that point.
Despite Anne Hathaway only being in the film for a short amount of time her nomination for Best Supporting Actress is so deserved. She was incredible – there is something so raw about her performance, which makes it all the more powerful. She really endeared the character to me which is a big thing coming from me because I have always found Fantine to be cloying and supremely annoying before.
So now onto the subject of the main man, Jean Val Jean, played by Mr Hugh Jackman. Overall a powerful and moving performance that has been rightly recognized in the Best Actor category. I’m a massive Hugh Jackman fan and have always wanted him to use his musical theatre talent more so was very excited when he was confirmed as the lead. On the whole I was not disappointed although I have to confess that his rendition of “Bring Him Home” was a little underwhelming. It’s not a bad performance but it’s just I was expecting more from the most iconic number of the entire musical (I know I know everyone always says the most iconic number is “I Dreamed A Dream” but they would be wrong)
I would kind of love it if Les Mis managed to beat out all the other nominees for the coveted Best Picture Oscar as it is a beautifully shot film adaptation of one of the best-loved musicals worldwide. Tom Hooper created the same kind of magic with Les Mis as he did with the stunning The King’s Speech (2010) – it pervades the entire film. It sounds so sappy but you can feel the love and dedication of everyone involved in creating the best film they could to do justice to the epic story by Victor Hugo.
The final shots of all those who lost their lives during the revolution atop the breathtaking barricade are beautiful and rousing. I came away from the cinema singing “Do You Hear The People Sing?” for days afterwards safe in the knowledge that I would once again “join in their crusade” which is exactly how you should feel having seen Les Mis and a testament to the outstanding job everyone involved in the film led by the capable Tom Hooper did in transferring from the stage to screen.