Updated: Saturday, 25th January 2020 @ 8:25am

Now showing @ Cornerhouse... Reviewed: Les Misérables

Now showing @ Cornerhouse... Reviewed: Les Misérables

By John Paul Shammas

This week, the highly anticipated Les Misérables arrives at Cornerhouse.

Bursting with emotion and visceral power, Les Misérables is an adaptation which seemed too ambitious to not fail. However, Tom Hooper’s ceremonious spectacular will leave audiences emotionally drained and thoroughly uplifted.

Every inch of the film is transportive, with Hugh Jackman journeying through a down-trodden 19th century France which, by the time the credits roll, will leave you thinking you were there too.

Despite this being a big, bloated event of a film, Tom Hooper retains his intimate cinematic eye, giving us the same generous doses of the off-centre composition photography that made The King’s Speech so interesting to marvel at. 

Those who have been lucky enough to sit through Les Misérables already have been quickly running out of superlatives for Anne Hathaway’s monumental rendition of I Dreamed a Dream, and rightly so – the Oscar is in the bag, put your house on it*.

As anyone who is familiar with the musical will know, Les Misérables is quite a bleak tale at times, but fear not. Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter step in at regular intervals to give proceedings a much needed comedic turn.

The brave decision to have all the actors perform the songs during filming is central to making Les Misérables the success it is.

This decision however has invited some criticism onto Russell Crowe for his singing ability. Is he up to the level of Hathaway or Jackman? No, but neither is anyone else in the film. 

Crowe’s villainous Inspector Javert is a bitter, hardened military character who, in not having the voice of an angel, isn’t as big a distraction as some have made out. 

Pacing was always going to be a problem however. After all, the story spans from 1815 to 1832 in only 158 minutes.

Because Hooper’s Les Misérables is such a grand spectacle from the opening frame, towards the third act audiences could find themselves a little weary - like the gorging of too much chocolate on Christmas day.

However, the climax does eventually provide a fitting conclusion to this inspiring triumph of a film. Long time fans of Les Misérables will certainly not be disappointed, and for those breaking their revolutionary-musical duck, you won’t know how you lived without it for so long.

*Seriously though, put your house on it.

Image courtesy of Universal Pictures trailer, with thanks.

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