Dreaming a Dream
Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman and cast wow in Les Miserables, writes Caris Bizzaca
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.