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Jean Valjean, known as Prisoner 24601, is released from prison and breaks parole to create a new life for himself while evading the grip of the persistent Inspector Javert. Set in post-revolutionary France, the story reaches resolution against the background of the June Rebellion. Written by
Even if you don't like musicals, you really should see this one
As a massive film fan, my tastes are very wide-ranging, but I do have a problem with musicals. Nevertheless I was happy to take the opportunity of a private viewing of "Les Misérables" at the London office of distributors Universal - the day after the London première and a month before the UK release - because of the outstanding success of the original stage show (a run of 27 years with a total audience of over 60 million) and the surprising and impressive cast list (Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter, Amanda Seyfried and Eddie Redmayne).
The showing was introduced by producer Eric Fellner of Working Title who underlined the commercial challenge of making a film in which all the dialogue is sung and the themes are so political and praised director Tom Hooper ("The King's Speech") for his insistence that every take was sung live.
The two main characters are presented in the opening seconds of a sweeping introductory sequence: the police inspector Javert (Crowe) and the prisoner 24601 Jean Valjean (Jackman) in post-revolutionary France. There follows over two and half hours with barely a spoken word which will not appeal to all cinema-goers, but the production is a triumph with Cameron Mackintosh's musical opened up by dramatic shooting on Pinewood's brand new Richard Attenborough stage and some historic English locations.
If Crowe and especially Jackman are excellent, Hathaway - who lost 25 pounds and most of her hair for the role - is outstanding as the destitute Fantine and Cohen and Carter almost steal the show as the comical Thénardier innkeepers.
I'm not sure how long it will take for "Les Misérables" to recoup its investment cash- wise, but it's going to win award after award and rightly so.
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