Cameron Mackintosh’s dreamed a dream of adapting his mega-musical, Les Misérables (Universal), from the Victor Hugo classic, into a film ten years ago. It arrives world-wide on Christmas day 2012. Yes, it was worth the wait.

In a huge departure from the way movie musicals are made, the stars sang Claude-Michel Schönberg’s score and the English lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer (from the French by Alain Boublil) on set instead of lip syncing to pre-recorded takes. There was a keyboardist on set, but each also wore ear pieces so they could hear the full symphony tracks.

Director Tom Hooper (“The King's Speech”) adds clarity to the story set in revolution-crazy 19th Century Paris, of broken dreams, passion, sacrifice, love, and redemption. Brutal policeman Javert, played by Russell Crowe (who makes an impressive effort to sing), is on a decades-long hunt for parole-breaking prisoner Jean Valjean, awesomely played by the Oscar-nod worthy Hugh Jackman.

Now, a successful factory owner, he aids ostracized worker Fantine, brilliant, heart-wrenching Anne Hathaway (if you believe the smoke signals, she's already won the Supporting Actress Oscar!) Fantine raises her daughter Cosette (Amanda Seyfried), snatching her out of the care of con-artists supreme, the Thénardiers, wonderfully overplayed by Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen. As the revelation builds steam, romance blossoms between Cosette and well-heeled rebel Marius (Eddie Redmayne). Samatha Barks (Eponine), Aaron Tveit (Enjolras), and Daniel Huttlestone (Gavroche) are excellent. Appearing in a cameo is Broadway’s original Valjean, Colm Wilkinson.

Advisory: stock tissues! There’s no way even cynics will be dry-eyed. Unless you've had the most wonderful, happiest, most joyous Christmas ever, don’t go see this movie on Christmas Day unless you want un Noël misérable. Wait a day or two!

Key Subjects: 
Les Miserables, film, Tom Hooper, Victor Hugo, Cameron Mackintosh, Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boublil, Anne Hathaway, Russell Growe, Hugh Jackman.
Ellis Nassour
December 2012