|Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean.
Directed by Tom Hooper
Produced by Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward, and Cameron Mackintosh
Written by William Nicholson, Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boublil, and Herbert Kretzmer (screenplay); Victor Hugo (novel)
Starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Helena Bonham Carter, and Sacha Baron Cohen
Academy Award winner Tom Hooper delivers another Oscar-caliber film with his adaptation of the revered stage musical. Hugh Jackman is the protagonist Jean Valjean, a man who spends five years of his life in a French prison for stealing a loaf of bread. Upon securing a release from his rival Inspector Javert (Crowe), he achieves great success and meets the destitute Fantine (Hathaway), whose daughter Cosette needs a home. Valjean takes her daughter in, but Javert has learned of his parole violation and is determined to make him pay for his crimes. Partially set against the backdrop of a bloody revolution, this is an epic musical if there ever was one.
I'm not sure if any film can be perfect, and this film certainly is not. However, I am overjoyed at how much I loved it. The driving forces are the performances of the ensemble and, of course, the music. These save the film from being ruined by the problems I had with it, such as the distracting visual style and the (noticeably) overpowering running time. Being a musical, this relies heavily on the voices of its cast, which performs admirably in both singing and acting. Some of the actors (like Jackman, Hathaway, and Redmayne) make better usage of their voices than others (like Crowe, Baron Cohen, and Bonham Carter), but the cast as a whole is very effective. I love the grim world this film creates, which isn't unlike the worlds of Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd and Carol Reed's Oliver! - both of which I love. Both devastatingly grim and sometimes humorous, this is a very entertaining spectacle, and one of my favorites of the year. It might not be a masterpiece, but it is one of the best times I've had at the cinema all year. In spite of its flaws, I laughed, cried, and was mesmerized. I can't give it anything less than a perfect score.
Oscar Potential: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor (Crowe), Best Supporting Actress (Hathaway), Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Original Song ("Suddenly"), Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing