Cinematic Thoughts for Cinematic Minds
Director: Tom Hooper
Translated to English the title hardly needs a second guess; The Miserable.
The Characters portrayed take you on an emotional roller-coaster, feeding you hope then replacing it with despair, and when you fear there’s no light at the end of the tunnel a firefly appears to show you the way. As over the span of seventeen years in the midst of the French Revolution everyone battles for a different kind of freedom. A subtle aspect of six degrees of separation is evident in this piece, woven into the foundation of the movie whereby Avert (Russell Crowe) spends his years hunting for disappeared convict Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman). On the run from the law Jean Valjean finds God and tries to find penance for his sins in the form of Fantines (Anne Hathaway) daughter Cosette (Isabelle Allen and Amanda Seyfried) who leads a miserable life in the hands of the inn keepers, the Thénardiers (Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter).
Russell Crowe arguably held one of the best performances as Avert who starts off as a prison guard but works his way up to a higher rank as the film progresses. Though he is the antagonist and predator to Jean Valjean, there was always something authoritively soft about Avert. He sticks to his belief in the law despite the civil and moral disputes he is faced with when it comes to Jean Valjean and even the rebels. This made him seem more misguided than evil and as you watch the cat and mouse chase between him and Jean Valjean you hope for a brief “Switzerland” moment between the pair.
Hugh Jackmans Jean Valjean was placed on a sympathetic pedestal as he was the central character, transitioning the film between characters and time in history. The audience are running with him from the law and therefore feel his tiredness, suffering and sense of urgency. Of course Hugh Jackman deserves more credit for not only his acting but his singing as his lyrics spoke volumes with the emotion of his face, but nothing less could be expected as Les Misérables is praised for having the first sync sound musical performance from its cast.
There were a few moments mid song where you would stop and think… ‘Do they really need to sing that too?’ But the necessity added to the believability whereby as the credits began to roll and the lights brightened the chitter chatter around you begins to form a beat of its own as cheesy and seemingly unbelievable as that sounds. The only major qualm was that, being that it is all set in France it was hard to ignore Gavroches (Daniel Huttlestone) heavy cockney accent, something it seemed no one in the production, casting or continuity departments thought necessary to question.
Having never seen the Broadway musical and knowing nothing about the story apart from that it was possibly French I cannot say whether or not it did the stage musical justice, only that if the standards are set as high as this film was, and manages to earn the respect of the audience as Les Misérables has done, then I gladly welcome many more Theatre Musical Movie adaptations.