Crying my way through Les Miserables

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100 movies of 2013

Les Miserables

In 19th-century France, Jean Valjean, who for decades has been hunted by the ruthless policeman Javert after he breaks parole, agrees to care for factory worker Fantine’s daughter, Cosette. The fateful decision changes their lives forever.

Shoot me. I’ve lived in London for my whole life and seen a fair few musicals and plays and what nots in the West End. Yet have I seen Les Miserables? No. I’ve even seen a handful of musicals a good few times. But still no Les Mis for me.

Saying that, it’s not as if I was unfamiliar with the music from the show. I knew of I dreamed a dream, Suddenly, On my own and One day more. The story? Not totally familiar. Just it was something French. Revolution-y. Ish.

Les Miserables is a powerful film. Powerful, emotional and, sorry if I sound terribly film poster-y, but it is a triumph. As the title of this post suggest, yes, I spent 90% of my time crying while watching this film. Nearly every song hits you right in the gut. Knocks the wind, and the tears, right out of you. Though, much like everyone else who’s seen it, it’s Anne Hathaway’s performance and songs that really hit me where it hurt. Never thought Anne Hathaway would have such an amazing and strong singing voice. Backed up by an absolutely heartbreaking performance. Yes, Hugh Jackman’s was fantastic too. But, I expected greatness from him. And he delivered. Like Anne, amazing voice and stellar performance too.

I know there’s been a big deal made of Russell Crowe’s vocal performance. From my point of view, I saw nothing wrong with it. Yes, he’s got a very different singing voice to everyone else. But, to my untrained ears, I didn’t hear anything out of tune. Very powerful. Very authoritative. Much like his character.

Having all the actors sing while performing, rather than have songs recorded in a studio, gave the film much more of a real feeling. Am I right? None of this dubbed over and lip syncing.

The film itself is beautiful. Think the barricade scene made me think I was watching a musical onstage. The set felt very like a theatrical set, rather than film set. Yet to decide whether that’s a good or bad thing.

You could do a lot worse than cry your way through Les Miserables. In fact, if you don’t, I worry for your soul. And now, I’m on the hunt for some tickets to the West End musical. Ahhh… there are tickets available near May/June time!

Les Miserables (Viewed: 23/01/13 | Rating: 5/5)

Check out all of the films I’ve seen this year:

4 films so far…

  1. Flight (Viewed: 01/01/13 | Rating: 4/5)
  2. Beasts of the Southern Wild (Viewed: 09/01/13 | Rating: 3/5)
  3. Gangster Squad (Viewed: 15/01/13 | Rating: 4/5)
  4. Les Miserables (Viewed: 23/01/13 | Rating: 5/5)


  1. Saw the musical quite a while back. Definitely need to watch this as I think a cinema experience will be very different, and I suspect more powerful. Thanks for sharing.

    • I think it’s a whole lot of a ‘bigger’ feeling, watching the film. But then, I’ve not seen the musical, so I can’t really compare. I’m betting if you enjoyed the musical, you’ll enjoy the film too.

  2. Two thoughts:

    One: completely agree with your assessment. My only problem with the film was Russell Crowe, who seemed to have needed his vocal instructor for longer.

    Two: I love the new design. 🙂

  3. I love Les Mis. I’ve seen it twice on stage, the second time with Alfie Bow and Matt Lucas which was awesome. And, whilst I have a couple of niggles about vocal performances and vocal casting I think I might love the film too.

    I’ve always liked Anne Hathaway but she excelled in this.

    I think a lot of the ‘barricade-ers’ cast had previously been in the stage show… which showed.

    • I was never a big Anne Hathaway fan. She was one of those actresses I didn’t really think much of. Until last year and her excellent role in TDKR as Selina Kyle/Catwoman. Loved that and had a feeling she’d impress in Les Mis which she did!

      Interesting about the barricaders. Also, good on the movie makers to use cast from the stage show who know the musical well enough to do justice to it on the big screen.

  4. Oh I thought it was a really good film too. I’m not a musical guy at all but this was so well done. In fact I think Tom Hooper deserved an Oscar nomination for what he was able to pull off. Glad to hear you enjoyed it still much.

    • Tom Hooper did do a fantastic job with this. Translating a musical to film is tricky. This is definitely one of the most impressive translations I’ve seen.

  5. Tears GALORE over here when I watched it last weekend. And indeed, you were right about the actors singing ‘live’. It makes the whole experience feel so much more alive because of it. More connected, I felt. Anne Hathaway’s solo really was the highlight for me. I mean, the singing in and of itself was spectacular, but the emotion she portrayed throughout was shere perfection. Factor in ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ was one long single-shot take as well, and it all adds up to show stealer.

    Russell Crowe I thought was good, acting-wise. As for the singing, it can’t be easy being compared to someone like Hugh Jackman – who has incredible vocal range. That may be where Crowe falls down in comparison. I can’t speak for anyone else, but that was the case for me. Had Hugh Jackman not the talent on that level, it most likely wouldn’t have been an issue. Russell Crowe just didn’t seem to have as much range, vocally. Still thought he was perfectly cast and brought exactly what was needed for that role.

    Second to Anne Hathaway, I thought Samantha Barks was astoundingly good. TINIEST waist i’ve ever seen! But god, what a beautiful performance she put in, and I was rooting for Eponine over Cosette at one point.

    Definitely the kind of film you have to experience on the big screen.

    • Oh my GOSH, YES to Samantha Barks’ waist! I was convinced I was the only one who noticed. But once I did I couldn’t unsee it. It looked about 4 inches around! I was rooting for Eponine over Cosette too. Probably around the same film marker as you were.

      Think you have a point about Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman. Russell was well suited for the role. He had the right presence. I am intrigued about how the role is played in the stage production.

      Anne Hathaway’s FEELINGS. They got to me bad. BAD BAD BAD. I am so glad they keep those cinemas so very dark. Though I wish my constant sniffling, due to crying, was more well timed – when there were loud parts and not in the silences!

      • Haha, so true! I thought for a brief second that they’d maybe shrunk her waist down in CGI or something. It just seemed *that* unreal.

        It says a lot about Anne Hathaway’s skill as an actress that she can have so little screen time in comparison to the movie as a whole, and yet make you feel so much. It was beautifully painful to watch.

        Was the audience strangely quiet when you went to see it? It was eerily silent when I went. I’ve never known anything like it, and it’s how I knew I wasn’t the only crying. There were sniffling sounds left, right and center!

        • There was a lot of sniffling in the cinema I went to. Sniffling that was trying to be hushed, but it was just impossible!

  6. I really disliked the movie, was completely unmoved by it. But I agree that Jackman was very good, Hathaway on the other hand – I find her performance to be quite phony and very overhyped. The Oscar will be undeserved in my eyes.

    • Really? Well, it’s refreshing to find someone who thinks on the completely other end of the spectrum when it comes to Les Mis!

  7. One of my favorites from last year and just goes to show you what a musical can do, when it’s done right. Solid review Jaina.

    • Yep. Though musicals are harder to get “into” than the typical film. This one – not at all for me.

  8. I wasn’t a big fan of the film, but I’m with you on Russell Crowe. I didn’t think he was bad at all, and I don’t think the bashing is warranted. :\

    • I guess people were looking for something to bash in the film and that seemed like an obvious choice for some.

  9. I’m actually reluctant to see this on the big screen as I’m afraid I’ll come out with two giant swollen eyes! I’m a crier so naturally I’ll be a basket case watching this one. As for Crowe, I feel like people are too harsh on him, it reminds me of Gerry Butler being lambasted for not having the classically-trained voice to play Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera, but to me, he perfectly captured the emotional component of the role and the way he sang the songs were heart-wrenching. I think I’ll cut Crowe some slacks too when I watch this.

    • You know what Ruth? Pretty much all the people in the cinema I went to see this in were in tears. You could hear everyone trying to muffle their sniffles! I came out with some very puffy eyes!

  10. I’m not too sure why, but I don’t know if I’ll be seeing this movie right away. I mean, I love musicals. The whole singing in the movie doesn’t bother me whatsoever, but for some odd reason, I’m just not “in it to win it” with this film. I feel like I should give back my female card or something. I mean, this is pretty weird, right? I feel like I’m not normal for NOT rushing to see this movie.

    I’m sure once I see this movie, I’ll feel like, “why did I wait so long?” I guess, I’m just waiting for the perfect mood to watch this movie. Great review….I shall take it into consideration.

    • Ha! “Give back my female card” made me crack up!

      Nah, I can see why it might not be on top of everyone’s must-see list. But if you do fancy seeing something in the cinema and this is on, you could do a whole lot worse.

    • Yes, a massive box of tissues! And make sure you either wear no make-up or it’s very very water-proof.

  11. I got a little bit bored during some of Jacman and Crowe’s songs but Hathaway and Redmayne were amazing. I was surprised how much I liked it!

    • Redmayne was surprisingly good. Honestly wasn’t expecting such a fab voice from him. Made me take notice of him.

  12. This was the first thing I saw about Les Miserables and I really enjoyed it, especially as it was during a great night out with my wife…

    • Can imagine the film would make for a great night in huddled on a sofa too! Actually, that sounds like a brilliant idea. Need the blu-ray to be released now please. 😀

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