‘Les Mis’ lives up to the hype


Wed­nes­day: AS MOST film­mak­ers will agree, Peter Brad­shaw, the English Guardian's hard-nosed cin­ema critic is a dif­fi­cult man to im­press, caus­ing my eye to zoom in when I saw a rat­ing of four stars (out of five) perched atop his re­view of Les Mis­er­ables.

In­stinc­tively, I thought one of two things ei­ther a) di­rec­tor Tom Hooper must have pic­tures of him in an un­com­pro­mis­ing po­si­tion or b) the film is ac­tu­ally bet­ter than I would have ex­pected.

It has been twenty years since I saw the West End stage ver­sion and hav­ing sat through the much­hyped big-screen adap­ta­tion of the mu­si­cal of Vic­tor Hugo's 1862 novel this evening, I am pleased to report that in my hum­ble opin­ion, it is mas­ter­ful.

As with all high-pro­file works cast be­fore a dis­cern­ing pub­lic’s eye, it is im­pos­si­ble to tick all boxes for all peo­ple. There is prob­a­bly a Bastille-full of ‘nig­gly de­tails' in this 158-minute long mu­si­cal that you could bang at with a baguette, in­clud­ing the per­for­mance of Rus­sell Crowe, who ap­pears un­usu­ally se­dated through­out.

The Gla­di­a­tor star has re­sponded to crit­ics (via Twit­ter, how else?) by say­ing he per­formed the way the di­rec­tor in­structed – raw and real. Though he suf­ficed as vil­lain Javert, his on-screen neme­sis, Hugh Jack­man, was the man to make the most of this mas­sive un­der­tak­ing. The story may have evolved around the con­se­quences of Jean Val­jean steal­ing a piece of bread, but few can ar­gue that Jack­man stole the show to go with it.

Those that are fans of mu­si­cals, though not mu­si­cally snob­bish, should en­joy. From the spec­tac­u­lar open­ing scene, prac­ti­cally the en­tire script oozes melod­i­cally through the screen. If your other half winces at the thoughts of wide-mouthed song­birds flex­ing vo­cal chord af­ter vo­cal chord for close to three hours, then usher him in the di­rec­tion of the widely lauded Django Un­chained, which is rolling on screen num­ber two.

This Jan­uary sees cin­ema-go­ers spoilt for choice (Lin­coln, Life of Pi, Flight and the afore­men­tioned Tarantino new re­lease all play­ing) and Les Mis­er­ables is a highly rec­om­mended way to pass an evening. Those with a pa­tri­otic pulse can ex­pect the so­cio-eco­nomic themes to stir the blood; the tale is not lack­ing rel­e­vance with the world of to­day. And there's a strong chance you'll be left hum­ming sec­tions of the score for a week or two af­ter­wards. Or un­til the re­al­i­sa­tion dawns that you would prob­a­bly be best off go­ing to see it again. En­core! Satur­day: Cork ath­lete Der­val O’Rourke didn’t hold back when she tweeted her thoughts on the Lance Arm­strong cheat­ing scan­dal. ‘75mil­lion­dol­lars­gone lance??? Oh boo hoo that’s aw­ful how about try be­ing clean and earn­ing min­i­mum wage to be an hon­est ath­lete’ she wrote.

O’Rourke, and more ath­letes like her, are most af­fected by the ac­tions of cheat­ing com­peti­tors and I sym­pa­thise with those that put in a gen­uine shift to com­pete at the world of sport’s top ta­ble, only to trail home be­hind those that have bro­ken the rules. How many more big names have done it/are do­ing it and have never/will never be found out? Who does the pub­lic now trust? Thanks to Arm­strong, the achieve­ments of many cham­pi­ons will never be looked upon in the same light again. Sun­day: Sky’s Su­per Sun­day heavy­weight clash be­tween Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur and Manch­ester United ended in a draw which was prob­a­bly the fairest re­sult. As we packed up our things to leave the wa­ter­ing hole af­ter an­other thrilling White Hart Lane en­counter, a gen­tle­man ap­proached us and sent us on our way with the fol­low­ing nugget.

He said that, al­legedly, af­ter a re­cent match in the US, a re­porter asked David Beck­ham if he con­sid­ered him­self a volatile player. Beck­ham thought for a moment be­fore an­swer­ing, ‘Well, I have played on the left-side of mid­field, right-side of mid­field and in the mid­dle, so yeah, I sup­pose I am.'

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