Les Mis has been epic since Hugo wrote and printed it. The length alone grants it such a label. I've read both the bridged and unabridged books, seen it on Broadway, own three cast versions and have the Dreamcast dvd. While, I wouldn't call myself an expert on it in any way, I feel safe in saying that I have a good grip on the story/show.
There are no weak links in this film. None. If you find one, let me know and we'll discuss it. I'm so grateful that Cameron MacIntosh had his hands all over this film as he produced the stage musical and this adaptation doesn't disappoint in any way. And let's face it, when you are making this musical into a film, there were so many things that could've gone wrong.
Cast: SO AWESOME!
I've been a big fan of Hugh Jackman's singing voice since I saw the dvd of the stage version of Oklahoma shot in West End London in 1999. You can probably find it at your local library. That's where I found mine. It's the only version of Oklahoma that I like. If you ever want a masterclass in acting in musical theater, Jackman's performance in Les Mis is THE one to watch.
And Anne Hathaway isn't far behind. I've also been a big fan of her since Princess Diaries and The Other Side of Heaven. Her singing voice was no surprise to me. Recall her Oscar songs with Mr. Jackman as well as some of her early movie roles and you won't be surprised either. Novel question, in the book, don't they pull out her two front upper teeth?
Russel Crowe as Javert? I was skeptical too until I caught a little snippet online that said he did musicals early in his acting career and while it may not go down in the history of Les Mis as the best musical voice ever, it's still suited to the part. I still have issues with his suicide at the end. As a reader, it still doesn't make sense to me with the way Hugo paints him but that's an author issue, not a film one.
Amanda Seyfried. We know from Mamma Mia she can sing but I wondered if she could hit all the notes required for the role of Cosette. If done in the written key, that meant hitting 2 high C's piano (soft) which is tough even at times for a trained singer. No worries. She had no problems. No idea which songs may have had their keys changed to better suit voices for the film as I don't have perfect pitch, but even if it wasn't high C it was till pretty close. And for once I actually noticed that Cosette had a spine, so thank you for that. The only tiny thing I noticed with her is she has a very fast vibrato, which I'm not a fan of, but it only comes out a few times and as vibrato is something you're mostly born with and can only minorly control, I'll let it go.
New to me Eddie Redmayne: you have to love Marius' voice to love him and boy does this guy have a perfect Marius voice. I mean he can sing. The only thing that bugged me was his quivering jaw at times. Can't decided if that is improper singing technique or emotional intesity coming through, but just sit back and enjoy. He's been at this acting/singing thing for a while, but this will make him public in a big way.
Helena Bonham Carter & Sacha Baron Cohen are the perfect Thenardiers. They do it to a T! No idea if he could sing, but no problems there. The thing that made me giggle was a bit of an interview I caught online by Carter where she said she could just barely hold a tune, which is just so untrue as we know from her performance in Corpse Bride and Sweeney Todd. This pair are wonderfully immoral, although I thought the Santa bit was unnecessary.
Samantha Barks: All IMDB tells me is that she beat out Taylor Swift to play Eponine for this and much as I like Ms. Swift, I'd say this was a good call. I saw online somewhere else that she performed this role on Broadway (although she is a Brit so it may have been West End) and that she does the role well in film isn't a surprise.
Aaron Tveit: Enjolras is his first film role from what I can tell, but his theater resume is certainly up to snuff and I hope we'll see more of him. Liked his voice just as much as Marius
The rest: Like I said there are no weak links. The sets, costumes, etc. just marvelous.
Oh, the new song is wonderful. I'll call it Suddenly. No idea what the real title is. I thought when they announced an Oscar nomination for a new song in Les Mis it was going to be during the end credits like Phantom did, but no, I was dead wrong. It's smack in the middle of the film and is a solo for Val Jean (Jackman). Blessedly they had the original lyricist and composer write it and it fits in perfectly. I wonder if they'll retro it into future stage productions. I vote yes! Oh, you'll also notice that snippets of songs are skipped here and there or even missing entirely (like Gavroche's Little People song). But I'm good with that. With everything else they included (like the elephant) and considering it's getting close to Hobbit length I'm willing to let a few little bits of song slide.
Go. See. Enjoy. Cry. (You'll need tissues even if you've seen the production before.)
Most of all be thankful you didn't live in France in the 1800's!!!
What did you think?