Les Miserables - World Premiere & Film Review

I'm a BIG fan of Les Miserables. I mean REALLY big, I own all the cast recordings, the 10th and 25th anniversary concert DVDs, the original RSC grey tee & sweatshirt from '85 and I have been to see the stage show at least 7 times in London's West End. I can sing you every word of every song too ...but perhaps it's best I save that for the shower.

With my premiere ticket!
I'd always wondered why Cameron Macintosh, the producer of Les Miserables, had not given the go ahead for a film version of Les Miserables sooner; especially with the success of other musical-based films like Mama Mia! & Sweeney Todd. Although after being lucky enough to walk the red carpet at the World Premiere in Leicester Square last night and actually watch the movie, I think I now know why. The stellar cast and the genius that is The Kings Speech director Tom Hooper may not have been an option in times gone by.

Macintosh waited for the best and he got it. And boy am I glad he did...

Director Tom Hooper
As such a big fan of the stage show, when I first heard about the casting I was dubious as to how these Hollywood stars would portray the characters that I (...and 60 million others!) had grown to know and love. Would they see it as just another pay check? Would they do the characters justice?

Everyone played their roles to perfection. Hugh Jackman was astounding as Jean Val Jean and if Anne Hathaway doesn't get the Academy Award for best supporting actress - I will eat my beret! Her rendition of "I Dreamed A Dream" was shot in one take to camera. It was desperate and heart breaking and her portrayal of Fantine, a factory worker who falls into prostitution, was my favourite of the film. 

Samantha Barks, Russell Crowe & Anne Hathaway
I cannot rave enough at how fantastic the casting of the pivotal younger actors were. They fulfilled their roles perfectly. 10-year-old Isabelle Allen's portrayal of young Cosstte was a highlight. She encapsulated Emile Bayard's illustration in Victor Hugo's novel and brought her to life. Her scraggly hair, innocent emotive eyes and sweet voice - she was the perfect choice for the role. Daniel Huttlestone as 'young pup' Street urchin Gavroche also deserves rave reviews, particularly for Huttlestone's acting during Gavroche's death.

Isabelle Allen & Daniel Huttlestone
Other gushes of praise are directed towards Helena Bonham Carter & Sasha Bohen Cohen who become the much needed comic relief of the film as the Thenardiers. Samantha Barks - who had never worked on a feature film before - life will change forever after this movie due to her outstanding performance as vulnerable yet brave Eponine.

As a fan of the show since the beginning, the nod to the Original London Cast in the form of small cameos in the film was a welcomed treat for us fans. The first Jean Val Jean, Colm Wilkinson who plays the Bishop of Digne in the movie and Frances Ruffelle, who originated the role of Eponine, made (according to Macintosh) 'A fabulous whore' in the Lovely Ladies scene as a prostitute alongside Anne Hathaway. 

Samantha Barks as Eponine
My only minor critisim would be the casting of Russell Crowe. Whilst in terms of his acting he plays the heros antagonist, evil inspector Javet quiet well (the sadness and thought hidden behind his eyes in some scenes was emoted brilliantly). I just wasn't wholly convinced by Crowe's singing voice. His rendition of "Stars" and "The Suicide" wasn't as strong as other cast members solos in the film and it left me slightly underwhelmed.

Perhaps it's the musical theatre snob in me, but the barr that Phillip Quast set when he played Javet was not met. Whenever it is right or wrong, whoever played Javet wouldn't have done the role justice by comparison. As Javet, Quast was evil personified, the definitive.

Unfortunately I felt that Crowe was no where near and rather than my usual sympathy for Javet when he takes his own life, I was quietly glad that his screen time was up. 

Check out Phillip Quast in the video below:

If you are a fan of the musical don't go expecting the songs to be belted in the way they would on stage. I wasn't sure how I'd feel about this, as I knew the songs sung in this way so well - but it works. It's much more emotive and appropriate for the movie adaptation. Some of the words are often tunefully spoken rather than sung.

The sets, props, make up and costume are all fantastic and true to 19th century France. The moment the opening scene arrives with that powerful Les Miserable score echoing throughout the cinema, you know you are in for a treat and any initial doubts are immediately removed with Jackmans stunning opening as convict Val Jean. 

Here's some more pictures I took of the cast inside the auditorium:

Producer Cameron Macintosh with Claude-Michel Schonberg, Alain Boubil & lyricist Herbert Kretzmer
Helena Bonhan Carter
Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne & Samantha Barks

A tale of social injustice; religion, unrequited love, hardship, politics, morals, and sorrow. This is a Christmas cinema release with the word 'Miserable' in the title. It shouldn't work ...but it really does.

Les Miserables the movie is an absolute triumph. During the premiere it commanded no less than 9 rounds of applause throughout and a standing ovation at the end.  

It is the most extraordinarily moving, well acted and directed, epic pieces of film you will ever see ...and I cannot wait to see it all over again. 

In cinemas in the UK on 11th January 2013 (Christmas Day for US residents) 

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  1. Ahh you lucky thang! I cannot wait to see this, it looks amazing. Still need to see the stage show too! I can't imagine Russell Crowe being that good a singer but I saw a clip of Anne Hathaway singing and she blew me away! She looked beautiful at the premiere too xxx

  2. I am so jealous that you got to go the premier! I am in love with Les Miserables! It's my all time favourite - I'm like you, i have all the cd's, dvd's everything!! I've seen the show about 10 times! Obsessed!! Anne Hathaway looks gorgeous, I can't wait to see it in the cinema! You looked gorgeous as well! In love with your blog and can't wait to find out more, so am following now!



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  4. Les Mis is amazing!!! I've seen the show a few times and I love it!!

    You have a great blog, I'm a new follower :) is that your dog in the pic on your front page? He/she is gorgeous!!

    Kimberley x


  5. oh, this is amazing! I have always wanted to know what goes on at a premiere! This is the first time I've seen an insight! Jenifer, thanks so much for your lovely comment, it is nice and reassuring that the blog community is a positive place to be. So many of these "trolls" have put people off blogging and supposedly "putting themselves out there". I've not taken their comments to heart, but it has made me wonder about a few issues. It's scary how some react to bad feedback, hate the thought of some people, esp young girls, who think the only way to deal with is to bottle it up. Anyway, on a good note - have yourself a very merry christmas and all the best for the new year. I shall be back to say hello again very soon xxxx