Wow. Hold on. I mean WOW!!!
Les Mis has blown me away. I have never seen the show before nor do I know the story as 1) I dislike films on history. 2) I dislike films on war. 3) I am not a fan of the French. So this was my first experience of Les Mis. And for someone of many words, all I can say is WOW!!!
Rule number 1. Do not bother to see this film if you hate musicals. There is hardly any dialogue that isn’t sung.
Rule number 2. You are allowed to clap after a moving scene. Yes it is cinema but some of these performances deserved a standing ovation.
This is set in France during the French revolution. The first scene is amazing and better than it would ever be portrayed on a theatre set. (Which is hard for me to say as an ex-stage actress myself). But the perception it is filmed from and wetness of the sea on the men really gives it another dimension.
The outfits are great but I think have been borrowed many times by Adam Ant and Coldplay! Even the young rebel looks a bit like laddie from The lost boys.
There are so many outstanding performances to mention but I have to give my Storm award (better than an Oscar!) to Anne Hathaway who plays Fantane. She plays the role with such heart and emotion. She is a real actress who gave her locks for her art. (They hack her hair off in a scene and she let them do it to experience it). This really works. All the actors sing live and Anne’s big song is ‘I dreamed a dream’ which she sings with hope and despair and emotion. I can completely forgive her for her ‘One Day’ accent now (well almost).
Hugh Jackman (yes Wolverine to most of us) is another actor giving another outstanding performance. He is the main thread of the film and again, gives the film heart. Who knew he could sing? Russell Crowe is his nemesis and they meet several times over the years throughout the film. They work well together with no one actually stealing a scene but complementing each other.
Samantha Barks plays Eponine and although it is a smaller part than others, I thought she gave it her all. Amanda Seyfried from Mamma Mia fame is Cosette . Thank goodness this is the only link with Mamma Mia as I hate what they did with that film. (Using famous actors who couldn’t sing a bloody note!). The young Cosette is played by Isabelle Allen and she is outstanding in her small role. I predict a wonderful future for this young actress.
I even quite liked Sasha Baron Cohen as the Innkeeper, but his wife is played by Helene Bonham Carter and she plays it all wrong. It is almost like she has reprised her Sweeney Todd role. Now I am not getting at Helene – Oh no she can act. Look at Lady Jane Grey or The Queen mum in the King’s Speech. She was amazing. But Tim Burton has tainted her character and now she is the person everyone calls on for a ‘quirky’ character. She belongs in Harry Potter, not Les Mis and to put on a cockney accent absolutely spoils it when Sasha is doing is best impersonation of a Frenchman. They are the light entertainment of Les Mis and do bring another dimension.
This is a long film, but so is The Hobbit and Django unchanged so maybe this is the trend to be able to tell the full story. Think of it as getting more for your money. You are not clock-watching in Les Mis. You are living and feeling their pain.