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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Hugh Jackman
Russell Crowe
Eddie Redmayne
Anne Hathaway
Helena Bonham Carter
Sacha Baron Cohen
Samantha Barks
Amanda Seyfried.
Directors
Tom Hooper.
Screenwriters
William Nicholson.
Running Time
158 minutes

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Les Miserables
Beyond the barricades


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Plot
Jean Valjean (Jackman), imprisoned for 19 years for a minor offence, is paroled but perpetually shadowed by Inspector Javert (Crowe). When he takes in the foundling daughter of the tragic Fantine (Hathaway), he finds a reason to keep his freedom.


Review
Les Miserables
Browse more images »
Les Miserables opens big. The camera sweeps over gilded, bulbous warships, blasted by coastal waves, to the hundreds of miserable wretches inching one of these monsters into the Toulon dry dock on waterlogged ropes. This vast chain gang sings Look Down in a rumbling bass that’s close to a dirge, and the tone is set. This is not the sort of musical where people dance their cares away, but one where people’s cares seem to rip songs from their throats. Through all that follows, the moments of levity and romance as well as the suffering, Tom Hooper’s adaptation of Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schönberg and Herbert Kretzmer’s juggernaut of a musical never fails to take its subject matter seriously, its raw, brutal edge in tune with Victor Hugo’s melodrama of the downtrodden and destitute.

Hugh Jackman, matching Jean Valjean’s fabled strength, carries the plot on his shoulders. Only he and Russell Crowe’s Javert remain constants through the 17 years of the film’s plot, and only Valjean really grows during that time, since Javert’s inflexibility is his defining trait.

We first meet Valjean as a convict, making futile demands that his jailer respect him as a fellow human being — only to be rebuffed by the didactic Javert. On parole he meets only rejection and prejudice, descending into animal-like desperation and spitting bitterness before a miraculous second chance sees Valjean resolve to match the faith shown in him in the film’s most emotionally complex scene. Righteous fury rages with a rekindled sense of virtue; wounded pride and a thirst for justice compete with hope of redemption, and somehow from the conflagration a morally upright man emerges.

As with all the film’s high emotion, this is communicated entirely in song, sung live on set and with veins frequently popping from the effort. Hooper’s commitment to live performance no doubt added hugely to the stress of the shoot, but in return for a few wobbly high notes he gets a unique, visceral punch. The vocals aren’t as flawless as, say, Alfie Boe managed onstage — Jackman struggles with the famously difficult Bring Him Home, and at times Crowe wobbles into rock stylings — but the drama is stronger for it.

Not everything is so successful. The Paris soundstages feel small and poky, and different angles of shot might have avoided a sometimes stagey feel and the jarring contrast with the outdoor scenes, which deliver a glorious Delacroix look and scale. The sprawling structure of the show, too, means that high emotion breaks in wave after wave without reprieve, cinematic close-ups magnifying the impact. At its best, that effect sees Anne Hathaway reclaim I Dreamed A Dream from Susan Boyle and ruin the song for all who follow her. Angry, defiant and broken all at once, it is a definitive performance, and though her part amounts to barely a montage and this one sublime solo, don’t be surprised to see her on an Oscar podium come February.

But after that emotional wallop, the love story between Marius (Eddie Redmayne) and Valjean’s ward, Cosette (Amanda Seyfried), can’t overcome her character’s inherent drippiness, leaving you impatient to get to the revolutionary stuff when students led by the idealistic Enjolras (Aaron Tveit) fight a hopeless uprising in the people’s name and Javert encounters Valjean once more. When these big moments arrive, the cast rise with full-throated determination and deliver a musical unlike any other.


Verdict
Occasionally, like its characters, ragged around the edges, this nevertheless rings with all the emotion and power of the source and provides a new model for the movie musical.


Reviewed by Helen O'Hara

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Les Miserables
Empire Star Rating

It's one heck of a movie for sure. but the problem with this film is that there a some scene's than hit it out of the park. (the "I Dreamed A Dream" scene is an instant classic) And there are some scene's that crashes flat on it face (the 2 scene's with Russell Crowe only was torture) But you cant stop routing for Hugh Jackman. who's great in the film. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Darren47 at 19:58, 17 October 2013 | Report This Post


went to see this film with extremely high expectation

I went to see this film with extremely high expectation ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ommrudraksha at 02:11, 23 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

Well I saw it for the third time and I just balled my eyes out again. I've enjoyed it more with every viewing, and the little things that I thought didn't work so well the first time seem to have disappeared. Just a phenomenal experience. ... More

Posted by Whistler at 01:32, 02 March 2013 | Report This Post


RE:

L: TheGodfather tp://www.imdb.com/title/tt1707386/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1]Les MisérablesSometimes there are those films that don`t require a long review. Those films that you can just describe with a few words, who have enough with only a few lines. Les Misérables is one of those films. Brilliant from start to finish, this. There`s almost no talking in the entire film, just singing. The special thing is that everything that you see and hear was sang live during the shoot. That gives it s... More

Posted by LEEJGM at 00:57, 02 March 2013 | Report This Post


tp://www.imdb.com/title/tt1707386/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1]Le s Misérablesometimes there are those films that don`t require a long review. Those films that you can just describe with a few words, who have enough with only a few lines. Les Misérables is one of those films. Brilliant from start to finish, this. There`s almost no talking in the entire film, just singing. The special thing is that everything that you see and hear was sang live during the shoot. That gives it something extra. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheGodfather at 21:49, 22 February 2013 | Report This Post


Truly Miserable

How this has won awards and praise is beyond me. I was bored for the most part (Anne Hathaway was superb, as was At the end of the Day, and the wonderful Gavroche). But this is a musical and the singing (even Hugh Jackman who had - past tense - a fabulous voice) is dreadful. I could not get past Russel Crowe- who's daft idea was it to cast this block of wood with a truly TERRIBLE voice in the key role of Javert? He simply ruined the whole thing, and every song - even the glorious Stars were ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dillon the Villain at 07:18, 17 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Zzzzzzz

L: Whistler L: Sinatra Mad, mad, mad plot, musicong, but, very well acted by everybody... especially Crowe, Hathaway and the amazing Jackman. Just a shame they are all in this story/movie together... very disappointing. t's probably just because you're unfamiliar with it. Somebody else said that, but I'm not so sure.... I love the main song, but the rest was pretty shite. ... More

Posted by Sinatra at 09:42, 05 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Zzzzzzz

L: Sinatra Mad, mad, mad plot, musicong, but, very well acted by everybody... especially Crowe, Hathaway and the amazing Jackman. Just a shame they are all in this story/movie together... very disappointing. t's probably just because you're unfamiliar with it. ... More

Posted by Whistler at 11:50, 30 January 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Zzzzzzz

Mad, mad, mad plot, boring music, too long, but, very well acted by everybody... especially Crowe, Hathaway and the amazing Jackman. Just a shame they are all in this story/movie together... very disappointing. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Sinatra at 10:24, 30 January 2013 | Report This Post


Zzzzzzz

Generally not a fan of musicals and this did nothing to chnage my opinion. Dull and far too long (after an hour I was wondering how much longer it still had to go) with mostly unmemorable songs and a style of filming (camera shoved right into singer's face) that was annoying I have no desire to ever see it again. Still not as bad as Lincoln though ! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Shaun666 at 15:18, 29 January 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Agree

Revolution is futile, life outwith the Bourgeois is hopeless, until the faithful assemble on a heavenly barricade for no reason. A lesson for contemporary life. The rich will win, those working for the rich to maintain the status quo will end up as broken as those they crush, the poor will get poorer, upon adolescent defeat the middle-class socialists will return to their well-to-do houses to live conventionally and reflect romantically on their naive youth when they had things resemb... More

Posted by boaby at 13:31, 26 January 2013 | Report This Post


Agree

Never seen Les Mis in any medium before. Quite enjoyed it. Agree with the comments that the closing stages are drawn out, it definitely loses something in the final act. Thought Jackman and Hathaway were both superb. Crowe, bit iffy. It's clear that he has to concentrate so much on singing that his acting/performance is a bit one-note. But overall, decent. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tysmuse at 23:18, 24 January 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Just put me out of my Les Misery

L: Hood_Man I know humour is subjective, but these gags are kinda lame. ren't they just. To be fair I think the OP realised and just gave up writing mid sentence. ... More

Posted by hype at 08:30, 24 January 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Just put me out of my Les Misery

I dunno about that, but I thought of Thunderbirds when I saw what he was wearing in the first scene. ... More

Posted by AxlReznor at 08:30, 24 January 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Just put me out of my Les Misery

Does anyone else immediately think of Russell Crowe & Tugger "Fightin' Around the World," when they see how Javert is dressed when he infiltrates the barricade? ... More

Posted by Hood_Man at 23:52, 23 January 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Just put me out of my Les Misery

Newsflash... film called Les Miserables is not happy! (You'd think the clue would be in the title, but the amount of people I've heard complaining that it's depressing is astounding). ... More

Posted by AxlReznor at 22:49, 23 January 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Just put me out of my Les Misery

L: Hood_Man L: mngarside24 Yesterday evening I had the misfortune of going to watch Les Miserables, my first mistake, with my girlfriend, my second mistake. I have never been to see the stage show however I have read articles about it being popular and it's apparently one of the longest standing musicals in the West End so it was inevitable that award hungry producers would adapt it for the screens. After forking out an extortionate £9.50 on a ticket and an extra £4.20 for a m... More

Posted by Whistler at 21:36, 23 January 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Just put me out of my Les Misery

L: mngarside24 Yesterday evening I had the misfortune of going to watch Les Miserables, my first mistake, with my girlfriend, my second mistake. I have never been to see the stage show however I have read articles about it being popular and it's apparently one of the longest standing musicals in the West End so it was inevitable that award hungry producers would adapt it for the screens. After forking out an extortionate £9.50 on a ticket and an extra £4.20 for a medium mixture of swee... More

Posted by Hood_Man at 21:22, 23 January 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Just put me out of my Les Misery

L: mngarside24 Yesterday evening I had the misfortune of going to watch Les Miserables, my first mistake, with my girlfriend, my second mistake. I have never been to see the stage show however I have read articles about it being popular and it's apparently one of the longest standing musicals in the West End so it was inevitable that award hungry producers would adapt it for the screens. After forking out an extortionate £9.50 on a ticket and an extra £4.20 for a medium mixture of swee... More

Posted by sanchia at 21:09, 23 January 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Very Miserable!

L: J_BUltimatum Hooper's need to include the chorus from Oliver Twist (thought this was France not merry old England) really got on my nerves. id I miss this? Or have I missed a joke? ... More

Posted by hype at 20:21, 23 January 2013 | Report This Post


Just put me out of my Les Misery

Yesterday evening I had the misfortune of going to watch Les Miserables, my first mistake, with my girlfriend, my second mistake. I have never been to see the stage show however I have read articles about it being popular and it's apparently one of the longest standing musicals in the West End so it was inevitable that award hungry producers would adapt it for the screens. After forking out an extortionate £9.50 on a ticket and an extra £4.20 for a medium mixture of sweet and salted po... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by mngarside24 at 23:01, 22 January 2013 | Report This Post


I think a lot of people went in to see this film with extremely high expectations as it had a massively famous ensemble and was dubbed 'the movie event of the year' but didn't know much about the story of the piece, therefore instantly criticising the film to be relentlessly sad. I thought this film was very good in parts but didn't give a refreshing take on the classics. The four stars are for Jackman, Hathaway and the French Revolutionists performances as well as the look of the film. I felt t... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by danfacey711 at 18:53, 22 January 2013 | Report This Post


Emotionally exhausting

I am NOT a fan of many musicals. Those I do like tend to be quite quirky (Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Rocky Horror) or classics (such as Sound of music, Grease, even Evita). During the first few minutes I thought I was going to have to walk out, but stunning visuals won me over, beating the unremarkable live vocals . Then, during Anne Hathways prositute tranformation and her UNBELIEVABLY emotional rendition of I dreamed a dream, I was hooked. I found this film incredibly emotional, enthralli... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by howiet1971 at 16:51, 22 January 2013 | Report This Post


Very Miserable!

I was really looking forward to this and hoped that Hooper might of done something better than the mediocre King's Speech. BUT, and this is a huge BUT, the film is dreadful! Hooper's need to include the chorus from Oliver Twist (thought this was France not merry old England) really got on my nerves. But none more so than the directing (I love the stage show) and thought this would be a great chance for someone to expand that and give us a little more look into French History. But no. Opening seq... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by J_BUltimatum at 18:52, 19 January 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Les Mis

L: rich HELEN O eez, give the caps lock a break te]This unaccountably favourable reception seems odd initially. Compare the response to Les Miserables to the mediocre reception that greeted the 2004 film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom Of The Opera, which was also based on a well known book that has been adapted for the screen many times. Now musical fans can argue as to which musical is superior, and I would probably say that the Schonberg, Boublil and Natel production ... More

Posted by timgowen at 16:20, 19 January 2013 | Report This Post


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