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Les Miserables reviews: What makes the movie different from the stage show?

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"I thought the great weapon in my arsenal was the close up, because the one thing on stage that you can't enjoy is the detail of what is going on in people's faces as they are singing," Hooper said. "I felt (that) having to do a meditation on the human face was by far the best way to bring out the emotion of the songs."

That tactic may or may not have paid off for a movie that is seen as one of the front runners for Oscar awards in February. Early screenings of the film that opens on Christmas Day have moved some audiences. Critics have praised the performances, but given the movie as a whole less than top marks.

The movie reunites the same team that worked on the original musical, including French composer Claude-Michel Schonberg, lyricist Alain Boublil, and English language adapter Herbert Kretzmer. It adds one original song to the existing show, which includes the well-known "I Dreamed a Dream".

Jackman plays petty thief Jean Valjean, the protagonist of the story based on French writer Victor Hugo's epic 1862 historical novel "Les Miserables." Valjean transforms himself into a respected businessman but struggles for decades to escape the clutches of his nemesis, police inspector Javert (Russell Crowe), and along the way encounters factory worker Fantine (Anne Hathaway).


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