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Epic musical, Les Misérables, meets big expectations | Aran Kirschenmann | Movie Review
Les Misérables is Victor Hugo’s epic story of Frenchman Jean Valjean imprisoned and forced into hard labor for 19 years after stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving sister’s family. Finally free, he finds himself unable to rejoin society after being marked as a criminal.
Later, after being shown mercy by a priest, he reinvents himself with a new identity.
I was surprised that not only was the film a musical, but the dialogue was also sung. There wasn’t a single scene in the film that wasn’t put to music.
While there are some songs sung by a group, the singing is primarily done in the form of dramatic, emotional ballads accompanied by extreme close-ups. While all the performances were very well done, I felt that the amount of music was a bit excessive. The plot moved quickly, but the many solos kept the film from being fast-paced.
The film had an amazing cast, and many of the actors surprised me with their unexpected singing ability. Hugh Jackman played Valjean and Amanda Seyfried played Cosette, a young woman cared for by crooked innkeepers. The film also starred Anne Hathaway as Cosette’s mother, Fantine, Helena Bonham Carter as the thieving innkeeper’s wife, and Russell Crowe as Inspector Javert, who threatens to expose Valjean’s new life.
Les Misérables is a very heart-wrenching and tragic story with many of the characters facing great hardships. Luckily the swindling innkeeper and his wife provided some much appreciated comic relief throughout the film.
If you’re a fan of musicals, this film is not to be missed, and any true fan of the classic tale will greatly enjoy this latest adaptation. It was exceedingly well done, and won this year’s Golden Globe for Best Musical/Comedy Motion Picture. Both Jackman and Hathaway also won Golden Globes for their performances.
Aran Kirschenmann, 16, is a contributing writer for the Bellevue Reporter and a Junior at Bellevue High School. You may reach and connect with her on her Facebook page “The Young Critic.”