Why that was wonderful is that I hadn’t seen the play since its opening week on Broadway in March of 1987 and realized I had forgotten the storyline. For some reason, I was thinking it took place during the French Revolution and the reason Anne Hathaway’s character Fantine had her head shaved in the trailer that had been running was because she was going to the guillotine.
The reason I make this admittance is because I was able to see the film with fresh eyes, being surprised throughout at what was happening. And, I was not alone. My film companion said she understood the story for the first time. That speaks to the talent of Director Tom Hooper and William Nicholson’s screenplay, especially since there is almost no dialogue in this sung-through production.
This is truly an outstanding work from all involved. Even young children in the audience had their attention rapt throughout almost all of the more than two and a half hour show. The audience applauded several of the songs and there was a resounding ovation at the film’s end. Note, this was not an industry screening. This was more than a thousand regular folks at the Ziegfeld Theater.
Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Samantha Barks, Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bodham Carter and newcomer Daniel Huttlestone all turned in fabulous performances. The only one a bit out of place was Russell Crowe, who wasn’t altogether convincing as the mindless zealot Javert. He comes across as too smart to be so obsessed with the “letter of the law.”
If you liked the play, you should love the film. If you haven't like musicals before, this one should win you over.
I give Les Misérables a 4+ out of 5.