Hit or “Mis”: Les Misérables

Then and now: The 2012 film poster versus the poster for the stage show.
Then and now: The 2012 film poster versus the poster for the stage show.

Boy meets girl. Boy knocks up girl. Boy abandons pregnant girl during revolutionary uprisings in 19th century France. Sound like a surefire recipe for disaster? It is. It’s also the plot of the film adaptation of stage musical Les Miserables. The proverbial girl, Anne Hathaway’s Fantine, spends the next five years struggling to make ends meet before being forced to the streets.

If that sounds like a tear-jerker, you’d be right. The French title translates into either “The Miserable Ones” or “The Wretched Poor,” depending on who you ask. Anyone who’s already read Victor Hugo’s novel of the same name knows how it ends—but this blogger refuses to spoil it. Just know that even after having seen the stage show—twice—I clocked in at approximately 152 minutes (out of a 157 minute run time) before I started ugly-sobbing into my buttery napkins.

While the film does contain some weaker vocal links (Russell Crowe pre-“Stars,” I’m looking at you), Hugh Jackman, Eddie Redmayne, and Samantha Barks give stunning performances as Jean Valjean, Marius, and Eponine, respectively. Anne Hathaway’s performance received generally positive reviews, and although some sneered at her rendition of “I Dreamed A Dream”—Fantine’s Act I pièce de résistance—Anne got the last laugh, winning multiple awards for her supporting role, including an Austin Film Critics Award, a Critics Choice Award, and a Golden Globe, among other wins and nominations.

It’s true that the world’s saddest movie* may not be for everyone, but almost anyone can appreciate the sheer magnitude of the undertaking that was bringing Les Mis from stage to screen. Hopefully the members of the Academy will agree.

Directed by Tom Hooper and Produced by Cameron Mackintosh. Starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter, Eddie Remayne, Aaron Tveit, and Samantha Barks.

Awards: AFI Movie of the Year, Golden Globe Best Motion Picture, National Board of Review Top Film, among others.

Oscar Noms: Eight total. Best Costume Design, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Music, Original Song, Best Production Design, Best Sound Mixing, Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Actress in a Supporting Role

*Not a scientific fact, but this blogger knows where it’s at.

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