Mag­nif­i­cent rather than Mis­er­able

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Cinema -

Tom Hooper, Os­car- win­ning di­rec­tor of The King’s Speech, dreamed a dream of im­mor­tal­is­ing ClaudeMichel Schon­berg and Alain Bou­blil’s pow­er­house mu­si­cal with­out the con­ven­tional safety net of lip- synch­ing.

That au­da­cious gam­ble - ask­ing the ac­tors to sing live in ev­ery take - pays off hand­somely, teas­ing out the heart­break­ing emo­tion in an adap­ta­tion of a stage show which has be­come a global phe­nom- enon.

Hooper’s ter­rific film em­braces the Schon­berg and Bou­blil song­book with bold di­rec­to­rial flour­ishes and tour- de- force per­for­mances, in­clud­ing a cride­coeur from Anne Hath­away that vir­tu­ally guar­an­tees her the Os­car.

HughJack­manal­sorichly de­serves a nom­i­na­tion for his fear­less por­tray­alo­fa­con­vict, which re­quired the Aus­tralian ac­tor to shed 30 pounds to con­vinc­ingly por­tray his ema­ci­ated hero.

The film be­gins with a thrilling over­ture in a dock­yard­whereVal­jean( Jack­man) and­his fel­low pris­on­ers haul a ship out of the froth­ing water un­der the watch­ful eye of In­spec­tor Javert ( Crowe).

Val­jean is granted pa­role and leaves be­hind his tor­men­tor but can­not se­cure em­ploy­ment be­cause of his shame­ful past.

Only the kind­ness of a bishop saves him from star­va­tion.

Eight years later, Val­jean has rein­vented him­self as a revered fac­tory owner in Mon­treuil- sur- Mer, where one of his work­ers, Fan­tine ( Hath­away), is cru­elly cast out when the fore­man learns she has an il­le­git­i­mate daugh­ter, Cosette ( Is­abelle Allen).

De­ter­mined to raise the money to keep her child un­der the roof of vil­lain­ous Thenardier ( Sacha Baron Co­hen) and­hiswife( HelenaBon­ham Carter), Fan­tine sells her­hair and then her body as she sobs I Dreamed A Dream.

Les Mis­er­ables is a tow­er­ing achieve­ment in front of and be­hind the cam­era. With the ben­e­fit of live singing, Hooper doesn’t have to pho­to­graph set pieces from afar, cap­tur­ing the tur­moil as ac­tors sing their hearts out in lip- quiv­er­ing close- up.

The cast is su­perb - Barks breaks hearts with her knock­out ren­di­tion of OnMy Ow­nandRed­mayne­matches her note for soar­ing note. Only Crowe is mis­cast. His sweet vo­cals ren­der Javert some­what im­po­tent next to Jack­man’s boom­ing de­liv­ery.

Mag­nifique!

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