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Weekend Watch: Les Misérables

Weekend Watch reviews Les Misérables, a poignant and powerful musical movie that stands apart from the traditional stage show.

I was raised by the quintessential man’s man. My dad’s love of hunting, fishing and all things outdoors was prevalent throughout my entire life. However, (and most people find this odd), he also had a passion for certain musicals, Les Misérables being his absolute favorite.

After hearing the songs hundreds of times throughout my life, I have become rather fond of the story so I felt a need to see the film as soon as possible. I decided to crash my wife’s girls' night out, and even though I was the only guy there, I was happy I went.

The story centers around Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), a thief who is recently released from prison. After trying desperately to get a job and return to normalcy, he is shunned which leads him back to a life of crime. When he is given grace after stealing from a kind Bishop (Colm Wilkinson, who played the Broadway version of Jean Valjean), Valjean pledges to change his life, thus starting an amazing journey of forgiveness, obsession and above all else love.

As stated above, I knew the story of the film so I wasn’t expecting to be surprised by anything, but one thing got me instantly: There are maybe 10 lines of spoken dialogue in the film the rest of the dialogue is presented via song. I admit that I laughed at first; it felt so awkward watching Hugh Jackman belt out notes while slaving away with other inmates, but after five minutes it no longer mattered.

What really set this version of Les Misérables apart from all its other iterations was the emotion that the actors and actresses injected into their characters. There was no lip-syncing, so when Fantine (Anne Hathaway) is sobbing about life gone awry or when Marius (Eddie Redmayne) mourns for his friends, you can feel the raw emotion behind their voices. I’m not saying that the stage version didn’t display emotions, but there is a difference in the way actors act on stage and in film, and I believe the film version conveyed the complexities in the characters in a more visceral way.

If sitting through three hours of music isn’t your idea of a great time I completely understand, but I urge you not to miss this amazingly poignant story and brilliant example of acting while it’s in theaters. 

Have you seen the movie Les Misérables? Share your review in the comments below.

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Emily Henry January 03, 2013 at 06:40 PM
I can't wait to see this movie! Thanks for the review, Colby. It sounds wonderful. I already love musicals but I've never seen this one.
Jim Caroompas January 03, 2013 at 09:25 PM
Even if you hated the movie, Colby, you were the only guy there. What's not to be happy about?
ElectraDaddy January 04, 2013 at 06:17 AM
I was impressed with how the movie shows what a wonderful father Jean Valjean was. In fact, the movie (like the book) makes it clear that becoming a father was the impetus that changed him for the good. In this day and age in which most TV shows or Hollywood movies portray fathers as idiots or emotionless robots, it's nice to see a portrayal that demonstrates just how much a man can love his children and the degree of personal sacrifice he will endure out of parental love. Jean Valjean was an awesome dad. And a single one to boot.
Emily Henry January 05, 2013 at 08:09 PM
I saw it last night and thought it was by far the best movie of 2012. I cried the whole way through, and that final scene.... wow. It should win an Oscar and so should Jackman and Hathaway. I can't believe that they did most of their scenes in one take! Absolutely stunning!
Susan January 09, 2013 at 05:46 PM
it's absolutely fabulous. Makes me totally dying to see it on stage again!

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