Everything is delivered in a low growl, and Crowe seems extremely uncomfortable, especially under the insanely close closeups that Hooper seems to favor. If you watch the film carefully, you might be able to see the exact moment that the realization “Wait, you mean I have to sing EVERYTHING?” crosses Crowe’s face.
Amanda Seyfried (“Mamma Mia”), as Valjean’s adopted daughter Cosette, and Eddie Redmayne (“My Week With Marilyn”), as the young revolutionary who loves her (after one furtive glance?), are merely so-so.
One musical exception is Anne Hathaway, who plays the tragic single mom Fantine and cinched an Oscar nomination with a knock-out performance of the show-stopping tearjerker “I Dreamed a Dream.”
Likewise, Samantha Barks is a standout as the similarly doomed Eponine, a part she played in a London production of the musical. Her performance is one that stays with you after the film ends.
Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen also deserve notice as a pair of thieving innkeepers who provide the only lighthearted moments in an otherwise grim affair.
“Les Miserables” isn’t without its strong points, but it’s blatantly manipulative and it runs too long. It’s not worth all the fuss … sort of like throwing a guy in prison for stealing a loaf of bread.
Rental Recommendation: “Les Miserables” has been filmed in non-musical form many times. Try the 1998 version, with Liam Neeson (Valjean), Geoffrey Rush, Uma Thurman and Claire Danes. Grade: B
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Starring: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway
Rated: PG-13 (for suggestive and sexual material, violence and thematic elements)
Running time: 157 minutes