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'Les Miserables' Review Roundup; Hooper and Cast Talk Singing Live

by Anne Thompson
December 6, 2012 2:51 PM
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'Les Miserables'

As a faithful rendering of a justly beloved musical, "Les Miserables" will more than satisfy the show's legions of fans. Even so, director Tom Hooper and the producers have taken a number of artistic liberties with this lavish bigscreen interpretation: The squalor and upheaval of early 19th-century France are conveyed with a vividness that would have made Victor Hugo proud, heightened by the raw, hungry intensity of the actors' live oncamera vocals. Yet for all its expected highs, the adaptation has been managed with more gusto than grace; at the end of the day, this impassioned epic too often topples beneath the weight of its own grandiosity.

The Hollywood Reporter:

A gallery of stellar performers wages a Sisyphean battle against musical diahrrea and a laboriously repetitive visual approach in the big-screen version of the stage sensation Les Miserables… Director Tom Hooper has turned the theatrical extravaganza into something that is far less about the rigors of existence in early 19th century France than it is about actors emoting mightily and singing their guts out. As the enduring success of this property has shown, there are large, emotionally susceptible segments of the population ready to swallow this sort of thing, but that doesn't mean it's good.

Daily Mail:

Les Miserables is a five-star movie musical extravaganza that hums with the spirit of Victor Hugo's classic novel and the landmark stage show upon which it's based. But Tom Hooper, who already has an Oscar under his belt for The King's Speech, has crafted a work, both stunning and stirring, that holds its own in cinematic terms. His casting of Hugh Jackman, giving the screen performance of his career, as the unfairly pursued fugitive Jean Valjean is a masterstroke because Jackman anchors the film with aplomb.


With Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe starring - and singing - for director Tom Hooper, the highly anticipated Les Misérables is a bold sung-through adaptation of the massively popular stage musical that substitutes close-up intimacy and naturalism for theatrical scale and sheen. The approach could well divide audiences, with fans of the show and musical theatre in general falling heavily for the full-on emotion and non-fans finding it all a bit confusing and over the top.


  • Karen Lefferts | December 11, 2012 8:43 AMReply

    As an aspiring actress and performer, I have nothing but respect for the entire cast and crew of Les Miserables. The music for the musical is already spectacular and the fact that they sang live on set will make the audience even more excited to see the film. The stellar cast members and director Tom Hooper, who has already won an Academy Award for The King’s Speech, proves that this film will become a favorite to many and could possibly receive an Oscar nomination. Although the film is mainly targeted towards theatre and musical junkies, non-fans will hopefully find this classic film equally as enjoyable.

    The hard work and dedication that this article has projected the cast and crew to be truly makes it difficult to believe that reviews will ever be bad. Even though live performances on set have not always worked out in the past (Peter Bogdanovich’s At Long Last Love), with much newer technology, there is no need to worry about how the cast’s voices will turn out. With many faces, old and new to the film industry, this film will boost their popularity and open new doors for them, especially the newcomers. I cannot wait to see the film, and having it come out in theatres on Christmas day is a gift itself.

  • Anne Thompson | December 8, 2012 11:16 PMReply

    Thanks for the catch, I meant Valjean. You are correct. Fixed.

  • Jamie | December 8, 2012 10:15 PMReply

    Anne, small error in article "Hooper added a new song for Javert" - The new song "Suddenly" was for Jean Val Jean not Javert.

  • AE | December 7, 2012 6:58 PMReply

    I have to say some of the clips were worrying, earnest poverty interpreted via the song of bourgeois cinema; Eddie Redmayne? Two words, Michael York, the British have been recycling MY for the last two hundred years, come on guys when it comes to your leading men play us another tune.

  • David Lean Fan | December 6, 2012 4:58 PMReply

    Les Miz, a critical disappointment? Say it isn't so. With all the endless hype, not forgetting the melodramatic reaction from that infamous New York Screening, one would think Les Miz is destined for untainted glory. I cannot stop laughing. This Oscar season is the gift that keeps on giving; surprises are running amok. I cannot wait for the televised awards. The battle seems to have narrowed down to Lincoln vs ZD30. Better them than the others really. Good luck ladies and gentlemen.

  • Michael | December 8, 2012 10:57 PM

    Where are you seeing it's a critical disappointment? The review roundup is mostly positive (with the exception of McCarthy's review). Am I missing something?

  • Christophe | December 6, 2012 3:16 PMReply

    Sorry Anne, I don't know what the Les Miz team told you exactly, but from what I've read and seen in the trailers, the movie was mostly shot in the UK. It seems only the mountain scenes were shot in France. The barricade scenes were shot at the Old Royal Naval College in London: - other scenes were shot accross the UK - and the studio scenes were shot at Pinewood studio between London and Windsor.

    Watching the trailers, I was really "shocked" by those big white buildings that looked nothing like Paris to me, but it's definitely a good thing for the movie's credibility that non-Europeans cannot spot the differences between British and French architecture styles.

  • Christophe | December 6, 2012 3:27 PM

    Reading the end of my comment, I hope I didn't sound despising or anything, I'm just very concerned by this particular subject, but really I love your work and all the insider info you bring to the table, can't wait to hear you on Oscar talk every week!

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