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
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
Arts and Entertainment
Crowd control: institutions like New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art are packed

Art
Arts and Entertainment
Cillian Murphy stars as Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
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.

    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices