My husband and I went to see a preview showing of Les Miserables at the Showcase last night and it was amazing. There was literally not a seat left in the house and as such, my husband and I were sat right on the front row to the left and had to spend the movie (150 minutes) staring up at the screen (cricked neck alert) but this could not detract from the power of the movie.
We have been to see the stage show more than once, both professional and amateur, and love it, so we were expecting great things. Hugh Jackman (X-Men, Van Helsing) as Jean Valjean was superb. He was almost unrecognisable at first when he is prisoner 24601 but he gives a gritty and moving performance throughout. Samantha Barks as Eponine was outstanding (though this should not be surprising given her turn in the 25th anniversary Les Miserables), but I was a little disappointed with Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia, In Time) as her Cosette was played far too dippy to be taken seriously and her voice got so high that at times I expected a bird to explode nearby a la Shrek's Fiona. Newcomers Daniel Huttlestone as Gavroche and Isabelle Allen as young Cosette were spot on, which is remarkable considering Isabelle was acting the part of a boy in her school play only a year ago. I expect to hear more from these too. Eddie Redmayne (My week with Marilyn, The Other Boleyn Girl) as Marius and Aaron Tveit (Premium Rush, Ghost Town) as Enjolras were also perfectly cast, as was Russell Crow (A Beautiful Mind, Gladiator) as Javert, even if his vocals did sometimes grate into cigarette rocker. Sacha Baron Cohen (The Dictator, Borat, Bruno) and Helena Bonham Carter (Harry Potter, The King's Speech) also treat us to a fine comedic performance as Thenardier and Madame Thenardier.
The real star of the movie however, is Anne Hathaway (The Dark Knight Rises, The Devil Wears Prada) as Fantine and although she is in the film for very little time, she steals the show. Her performance is both angry and heartbreaking to a powerful degree and I would think it a travesty if an Oscar does not wing its way to her on the strength of this role.
The genius of the Tom Hooper (The King's Speech, The Damned United) direction, gives close ups of the characters whilst they sing, so that most of the shot is taken up with the raw emotion in their faces and this drags you into the movie in a way the show cannot. Amazing when you consider that each song was done live and in one take (it must have been very hard to choose which one to go with) but it benefits from the spontaniety.
I thought the fight scenes could have been less 'stagey' as could the barricade, but these are minor points in a film that arguably revolutionises the movie musical. You will not be surprised therefore, when I tell you that the audience broke out into loud applause at the end of the movie, which is a very rare thing indeed for a film, let alone a musical.
A tour de force 10/10