Les Miserables (2012) Review

director: Tom Hooper

writers: William Nicholson, Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schönberg & Herbert Kretzmer

starring: Hugh Jackman, Russel Crowe, Anne Hathaway and Amanda Seyfried

genre: Drama | Musical

release date: December 25, 2012 (U.S.), February 14, 2013 (Greece), February 21, 2013 (Germany)

based on the book "Les Miserables" by Victor Hugo & the musical theater production of the same name by

The tale of duty, freedom, redemption, and love couldn't have been more brilliantly done and adapted for the big screen. The musical adaptation of one of the most renowned works of literature and theater has finally gotten its definitive edition on film and is a cinematic achievement that we all should be proud of. 


In 19th-century France, the French Revolution didn't lead to the freedom the French had envisioned, nor the decline of poverty and injustice as they had hoped. One of the unfortunate in this land is Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman). A prisoner who cant run away from the stigma of being a thief.

In a effort to survive, he reinvents himself with a new identity and purpose. This new purpose may prove short lived as his former adversary in prison and now policeman Javert (Russel Crowe) hasn't forgotten about him and is close on the trail. While avoiding Javert's hunt, Valjean finds the will to help a factory worker called Fantine (Anne Hathaway) and her daughter Cosette. In the end it's Valjean mission in life to survive with Cosette and give her a life that her mother always dreamed of. 


Ever since I was a child, the only musicals that ever worked on me were "the Wizard of Oz" & Disney musicals in general. They had in my opinion the correct formula down and knew how to work the chemistry between dialogue scenes intermixed with separate musical numbers.

The ones that I never was keen on, were the films that believed that songs were more important than the story or the connections the characters should have (Rock of Ages). Also singing dialogue in most films always felt a bit tacked on and far too rehearsed (Dreamgirls).

evertheless, my apprehensions of "Les Miz" falling into a complete mess proved false. As it not only turned out great in every department imaginable, but it also showed new and more sensible ways of performing songs on set, making improvisation apart of the process and losing completely the unemotional side of lip syncing that was dragging this genre down.

Combined with the films scope, glamorous sets, level of quality in production and its direction with wide angle shots and character faces seeming huge on screen. All lead to a wonderful and powerful genre epic. In a musical extravaganza with touching drama, but also a bit of good old humor to balance it out.

After his Oscar win with the "Kings Speech" director Tom Hopper played big and risky with his next project. Showing in the process his range as a filmmaker, his capability and that he ain't no one timer to the big dogs table.

All this by mastering the genre of the musical and putting a much more personal and dynamic touch on his work compared to his previous directoral endeavor. Handling the scenes, set pieces and musical numbers to meticulously precision and portraying the characters intentions and wishes perfectly. 

Naturally this is helped by the live singing and improvisation of the musical scenes. Making each individual scene feel unique and not rehearsed to death. The actors with this change of pace in the genre, give riveting performances and all help to create one of the best musical experiences in cinema.


Having seen a previous version of the book on film and not being impressed. I never thought someone else would able to tackle the same material and knock it out of the park. This an impeccable dramatic-musical, well deserved of its praise and from every aspect a top notch film that you won't want to miss.

Personal Rating:

review by Paul Katsaros

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