Les Miserables review

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We’re not miserable in our house but you could say we’re a bit sad in our obsession with all things Les Misérables.

I’ve seen the musical three times, hubby and the teenager raved about it when they saw it, and you’ll often catch us singing along to the soundtrack.

So it comes as no surprise that we’ve been waiting with building excitement for Les Misérables the movie.

Director Tom Hopper’s tour de force is a totally different experience to the stage version of Victor Hugo’s sweeping tale about post-revolutionary France.

In a theatre, it’s all about the powerful score and the performers’ delivery of the songs.

But Hopper chose not to cast singers and for the actors to sing live.

Yes this brings a real and raw quality. But as a lover of the musical it was strange to sit there and not feel shivers run down my spine from the sheer beauty of the singing.

Maybe Hopper hoped the acting would evoke the emotion but only Anne Hathaway as Fantine and Eddie Redmayne’s Marius achieved this, particularly with I Dreamed A Dream and Empty Chairs At Empty Tables. These for me were the highlights and when Hopper’s directing really worked.

Hugh Jackman gave his all to create a credible Jean Valjean and Samantha Barks tugged at the heart strings as Eponine.

Helena Bonham Carter and Amanda Seyfried were polished – if not brilliant – in the roles of Madame Thénardier and Cosette.

But Master of the House Sacha Baron Cohen didn’t master his part and Russell Crowe disappointed in his portrayal of one of the central characters, policeman Javert.

His singing lacked power or feeling and his performance didn’t get to the heart of what makes Javert tick – how his lifelong beliefs slowly crumble around him before he finally commits suicide.

Having said all that, I did enjoy the movie.

There were moments of sheer brilliance and as a Les Mis diehard, it was wonderful to see the staging on a scale which could never be achieved in a theatre.

Don’t be put off by my criticism. It’s definitely worth a watch – the cinema was practically full on the night I went and many around me were moved to tears.

For me nothing could beat seeing the show on stage but this is a pretty good substitute.

And if you’re a Les Mis fan, look out for the original Valjean, Colm Wilkinson, in the role of the bishop. Now he can sing!

DEBBIE BUTLER