Months ago when I found out “Les Mis érables” was taking its on stage appeal to the big screen, I was overjoyed, but at the same time held high expectations for the film version.
I say this because I saw the play in theaters this past summer, but not just any theater, in the theater district of London. For almost three hours I sat with my eyes glued and ears perked in order to take in every element of the play. I can’t say I’m a theater buff or that I have studied “Les Misérables” inside and out, but I know an exceptional musical when I hear one.
“Les Mis,” which is what I will refer to it as from this point on for the sake of sounding like a true fan, was written in the late 1800’s by playwright Victor Hugo. What began as a novel quickly became one of the most popular theater productions in history. “Les Mis” is a tale of redemption, love and hope during the 19th century in France.
As I walked into the Cobb theaters, accompanied by my 17-year-old sister, I knew I was seeing Les Mis in a completely different element.
No, I wasn’t in London and these were not tangible people singing, dancing, and acting right in front of me, but the experience I had in theater number 18 in Lakeland was pretty darn close.
The film started off a bit slow and may have been a bit confusing for those with no prior knowledge of “Les Mis” (my sister confessed she was confused in the beginning). Yet as soon as Anne Hathaway appeared on screen, the movie instantly transformed into the “Les Misérables” I knew.
Hathaway executed the role of Fantine flawlessly and gave me chills as she belted out the well-known song “ I Dreamed a Dream.” While for me Hathaway stole the show, the entire cast perfectly molded themselves into the role of each character. Well known actors such as Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, Helena Bonham Carter and Amanda Seyfried surprised me with their pleasant singing voices.
The plot stays seemingly identical to the theatrical version, but is enhanced by the breathtaking cinematography. Having “Les Mis” in movie form allows the audience to get more of an idea of what France in the 1800’s was like, ultimately enabling the audience to feel more deeply the emotions of the characters.
For those who are not interested in musicals or French history, this may not be the film for you, but the humor interspersed throughout adds a sense of liveliness that almost anyone could enjoy. The innkeepers, Mr. and Mrs. Thenardier, Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter, are especially comical characters that add clever quips throughout.
Overall, “Les Mis” was a beautifully constructed film in the elements of cinematography, music and casting. While this film may not be everyone’s cup of tea I think it will please those who were already fans of “Les Mis.”