Thursday, December 27, 2012


I saw the stage production of 'Les Miserables' in Chicago MANY years ago in a beautiful old theater in a private balcony seat.  I've always loved the theater.  I grew up in a podunk little town that, in the summer, transformed itself into a cultural mecca.  I had the opportunity to see Shakespeare and various operas in Chautauqua Institution.  I also took part in small high school plays (not getting the part I wanted where I kissed the handsome blue eyed boy, but instead played the old hag...that's another story) as well as bit parts in college productions.  Living in Chicago afforded me the opportunity to continue my love of theater, viewing 'CATS' and 'Les Mis' along with many others.  Thankfully,  I am now able to see wonderful smaller plays in storefront theaters in Chicago as well as the better known productions from Steppenwolf.  To bring a stage production known for years to the silver screen is a daunting task.  Tom Hooper successfully did so.  He found the talent, conveyed the story, and made it work.

Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway quickly changed their personas during 'Les Miserables' from convict to thief to nobleman and struggling mother to a destitute and desperate whore.  These two actors were talented in their art, but they were also both talented singers.  To convey the depth and meaning of the lyrics was also a daunting task, but they deftly performed their skills.  Russell Crowe also demonstrated a skill previously unknown.  His rich, velvety voice fit the part of policeman Javert perfectly.  Their resonant voices, the full-bodied lyrics, and the richness of each of the characters pulled you into their troubled world.  Remember, the title is 'Les Miserables.'  It's not pretty in the superficial, typical way.  But the story was so very beautiful.  It was a story of love and not just love between a man and a woman, but love of honor, of country, of life, and of liberty as well.  The loss these characters encountered was unfathomable.  Some endured and some did not.  Remember, 'Les Miserables.'

The music was familiar, if you know 'Les Mis.'  The settings were reminiscent of the play, but were much more splendid and bountiful thanks to the flexibility of film vs. stage.  It conveyed cold.  It communicated poverty.  It expressed desperation.  The settings were all that and more.  The music was beautiful with very little speaking conversation.  Now this is where I had some difficulty with the musical.  Yes, I know it's a musical.  I loved 'West Side Story' and 'Chicago' is one of my all-time favorite musicals.  When the lines and conversation are sung-spoken with no melody, I struggled.  I am fine if the conversation fits the musical lines, but it must be a song not just notes.  Again, similar to my views on Quentin Tarantino (see DJANGO UNCHAINED review), that's just my opinion.  This musical will definitely appeal to all 'Les Miserables' fans and musical lovers.  I just don't think it'll cross over into the mainstream very well due to that last observation.

See this film if you loved the stage production of 'Les Miserables.'  You won't be disappointed.  You will be amazed at the unceasing talents of not just the main stars but everyone in this film. This was truly a wonderful adaptation from stage to film.  However, if you aren't a fan of musicals, I'm guessing you might not enjoy this.



  1. Tom and I saw this movie yesterday and we were both blown away with the beauty of the film. I've always been a Les Mis fan; I've read the book, seen the play and now have watched the movie. (The book is still the best--although Hathaway's song took my breath away.)

    I thought Russell Crowe was okay as a singer, but he didn't seem to sing with the same emotion as the other characters. Even his final song seemed to be stilted.

    But I really enjoyed it and would highly recommend seeing it on the big screen. Don't wait for DVD. Not the same.

  2. Peri, I'm glad that you and Tom enjoyed the movie so much! Anne Hathaway's role and her ability to convey so much meaning with that clear and strong voice was amazing. Thanks for the post and I hope other Les Mis fans enjoy the film as much as you and Tom!