Dream­ing a Dream

Anne Hath­away, Hugh Jack­man and cast wow in Les Mis­er­ables, writes Caris Biz­zaca

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - Les Mis­er­ables opens on Box­ing Day, with previews this week­end.

LES MIS LEADS BOX­ING DAY AT THE BOX OF­FICE

ANNE Hath­away’s pow­er­ful ren­di­tion of I Dreamed a Dream in Les Mis­er­ables sweeps you through ev­ery emo­tion un­der the sun, de­liv­er­ing a heart-wrench­ing per­for­mance that should put her in the run­ning for an Os­car, if not seal the deal.

Mak­ing it even more pro­found is that Hath­away per­forms it all in one take – a sin­gle close-up, with her face fill­ing the screen.

That sums up the feel­ing of watch­ing Les Mis­er­ables, a roller­coaster of emo­tion that pulls you from tragedy with Hath­away’s Fan­tine to rous­ing ca­ma­raderie and the many forms of love, all set against the epic back­drop of 19th-cen­tury France.

Di­rec­tor Tom Hooper ( The King’s Speech) re­mains faith­ful to the mu­si­cal, based on Vic­tor Hugo’s 1862 novel, that means the film clocks in at 158 min­utes.

The length will test the pa­tience of some not fa­mil­iar with the mu­si­cal, as there’s barely a line that’s not sung. But whether you love or hate Les Mis, you can­not deny this is am­bi­tious film­mak­ing, filled with as­ton­ish­ing per­for­mances.

Lead­ing the cast are two Aus­tralians – Hugh Jack­man is the honourable former in­mate Jean Val­jean, who breaks his pa­role, takes a new iden­tity and turns his life around. He’s joined by Rus­sell Crowe as the ruth­less po­lice in­spec­tor, Javert, who’s hell bent on track­ing him down.

Jack­man, also likely to earn an Os­car nod, es­sen­tially drives the movie as Val­jean, with his story link­ing him to Fan­tine and her daugh­ter Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) and set­ting the stage for the rest of the film.

Crowe, while ob­vi­ously not trained vo­cally like some of the oth­ers, is no Pierce Bros­nan in Mamma Mia – he hits the notes, although his best mo­ments are cre­ated in tense ex­changes with Jack­man.

Mamma Mia’s Seyfried shows off her voice much bet­ter here as Cosette, while stage ac­tor Sa­man­tha Barks melts hearts singing On My Own as Epo­nine.

Sacha Baron Co­hen and He­lena Bon­ham Carter pro­vide comic re­lief as cock­ney-ac­cented thieves Thenardier and Madame Thenardier.

The cast were helped by Hooper’s de­ci­sion to record their on-set per­for­mances, for the film cre­ates an en­vi­ron­ment sim­i­lar to a live stage show.

Other high­lights in­clude Jack­man’s What Have I Done? and cho­rus songs At the End of the Day and Do You Hear the Peo­ple Sing? dur­ing the rous­ing fi­nale.

Watch­ing this beau­ti­ful adap­ta­tion is an emo­tion­ally drain­ing ex­pe­ri­ence – but it’s one you can’t help but walk away from with­out be­ing im­pressed.

Anne Hath­away, as Fan­tine, be­ing thrown out of the fac­tory in a scene from di­rec­tor Tom Hooper’s mas­ter­ful Les Mis­er­ables.

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