‘Do you hear the people sing? Singing a song of angry men?’ Les Misérables: A Review
Having never seen the stage version of Les Misérables, it was the dramatic advert that compelled me to pre-book my tickets to see the prolific musical at the cinema. And drama was definitely delivered! The opening scene sees Hugh Jackman as a slave pulling a huge ship into the harbour and performing a breathtaking version of ‘Look Down’, which already sets Jackman apart as the strongest actor in this film
Jackman plays Jean Valjean, a man serving 19 years as a slave for stealing bread for his dying nephew, our first glimpse into the unjust society within which these characters are struggling to live. However, when Valjean doesn’t return from his parole, police officer Javert, played by Russell Crowe, sets off an epic film-long adventure to catch him and bang him to rights.
This tale of cat and mouse continues throughout the film intertwined with the lives of other characters suffering in the economically challenged time of 19th Century France.
The performances that stood out for me included that of Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter who played a picket-pocketing pair whose rendition of ‘Master of the House’ was delightfully comical and provided much-needed lighter moments. In addition, the vocal capability and acting skill of Eddie Redmayne (the new and improved Hugh Grant) also stood out for me, and alongside his fellow bunch of anti-monarchists, really thrashed the film to a staggering end which saw them stand upon a huge barricade singing the stomach-churning lyrics to ‘Do you hear the people sing?‘.
A special mention must be given to the young street urchin Gavroche, who gave a great performance and would have endeared even the most cold-hearted of viewers when daring to go between the dead bodies to retrieve ammunition.
Notable performances are also those of Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) and Éponine (Samantha Barks) who both vie for the attention of Redmayne’s character Marius, unfortunately Éponine’s love isn’t reciprocated which concludes in her bemoaning her position by giving one of the most-tear jerking performances of the film in her rendition of ‘On my Own’.
Overall, Les Misérables is an interesting film which should be commended for its fabulous production and strong performances, most notably that of Hugh Jackman whose acting skills were fabulous from inception to end.