Raw, real and devastating in its emotional punch

First night review: Les Misérables, directed by Tom Hooper and starring Anne Hathaway

5.00

The impact of Hathaway as Fantine is even greater than on the stage, so overwhelming, literally, is the performance

In 1862, Victor Hugo wrote the book. In 1985, Alain Boublil and Claude Michel Schonberg wrote the show. And in 2012, Tom Hooper directed the movie.

To say that Les Miserables is going to be a hit is putting it mildly. Unlike the opening night of Trevor Nunn’s Barbican production, which produced poor reviews but staggering box office, this new production – which gives the characters of Jean Valjean, Fantine, Cosette a forever life – is going to go down in history for the way it tells a musical tale on the big screen.

A cast, that includes Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe and Eddie Redmayne, sing their dialogue rather than speak it – as they do in the musical, which was the first ‘through-sung’ – with a director, Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech), who made this movie on the condition that his actors were allowed to sing live for the camera (ear-pieces attached to a nearby piano, following them).

The result is performances that are raw, real and devastating in their emotional punch; a camera stays tight on Anne Hathaway’s Fantine for the entire 3 minutes of her "I Dreamed A Dream" and, if at all possible, the impact is even greater than on the stage, so overwhelming, literally, is the performance.

Not only has Hooper cast so well – Hugh Jackman, Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Banks and Amanda Seyfried are natural singers so they power the story along – but he composes so well; great set numbers like At The End Of The Day or Master Of The House are transposed to the screen with sensitivity, imagination, and supreme craftsmanship - bringing to a much larger and more vivid life than has ever been possible before, the story of Victor Hugo’s everyman, Jean Valjean, who once made the mistake of stealing a mouthful of bread and went on to experience redemption during the 1832 Paris Uprising.

Hugo’s voice is present throughout – for those who’ve read the book – as is new material from Alain Boublil and Claude Michel Schoenberg, who give Valjean a new song to accompany his journey with the young Cosette, having saved her from the rotten Thernardiers (brilliantly delivered by Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen, the only character who gets new lines: “Colette? Courgette? Cosette?”).

Cameron Mackintosh and Alain Boublil and Claude Michel Schoenberg have waited 27 years to make this show into a movie, with directors including Steven Spielberg variously vying for the gig. They were right to wait and right to pounce on Tom Hooper when he came along. He’s reinvented the movie musical and created a whole new generation of Les Mis lovers. It’s a dream nobody could have dreamed.

Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments