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For novices, the film (based on the award-winning Broadway musical adaptation of Victor Hugo’s novel) tells the tale of unjustly-imprisoned Jean Valjean (Jackman), who seeks redemption once he is released. However, his decision to break parole incites the wrath of Inspector Javert (Crowe), an obsessive policeman determined to bring Valjean ‘to justice’ no matter what. Hathaway plays a struggling factory worker named Fantine, whose daughter Cosette (Isabelle Allen as a child, Seyfried as an adult) eventually comes under the care of Valjean – having previously been forced to work as a servant by the Thénardiers, who were entrusted to care for her by Fantine and treat her like their own daughter Éponine (Barks).
Les Misérables certainly looks strikingly different than most of the other Broadway musical-turned films released in recent years, thanks to some picturesque visuals and unusual camera angles conjured up by director of photography Danny Cohen (who received an Oscar nod for his similar work on King’s Speech). The singing is raw and unrefined, but that absence of pitch-perfection seems in keeping with the overall gritty design of the film – not just in terms of cinematography, but also the costume and production design by Paco Delgado (The Skin I Live In) and Eve Stewart (another King’s Speech alum), respectively.
However, Hooper’s approach might divide the Les Miz fan base between those who approve of his attempt to give the show real cinematic flavor – while preserving the emotional impact of the music – and those who would’ve preferred there to be more emphasis on making the songs percussive and booming (like an excellent recorded version of the stage show). Of course, we will have to wait for the actual film to see if that’s indeed the case.
Kevin Yeoman blogs at Screen Rant.