Looking Forward – Les Miserables (2012)

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June 10, 2012 by Liza Lou

I have a special relationship with Les Miserables which was introduced to me by an old boss years ago in an attempt to me more cultured or something. I remember listening to the soundtrack before seeing the stage show and hanging on every single word that was sang. When I eventually saw a live performance I cried my eyes out like a baby and it’s continued to evoke that same emotion in me ever since.
Hearing that it was coming to the big screen then, excited me and filled me with dread at the same time. I’ve seen the 1998 Drama with Liam Neeson and Geoffrey Rush but because it was non musical I managed to disconnect myself enough to enjoy it for what it was. Working Title Films and Universal Pictures however  are doing what I never thought would be possible by attempting to lift the musical from the theatre stage and sprinkle it with cinematic magic.  
Can it work? I really hope so!
I wasn’t that surprised when Hugh Jackman was cast as Jean Valjean as I was aware of his musical background but having watched him play angry (as Wolverine) and romantic action man (in Australia) I’m undecided that he can pull of the emotional range associated with Valjean. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Jackman is a bad actor and I’m sure that many people could prove me wrong on what I am writing here but Les Miserables is Valjean’s story and it’s a roller coaster of a story to portray. 
More surprising for me was the news that Russell Crowe would be taking on the role of Javert. He’s certainly got star power that’s for sure and with films like Gladiator and Robin Hood under his belt it’s clear his talents speak for themselves as far as period drama goes but what about vocals, is he really capable? Javert songs are big, full of conflict and precise. Like many Les Mis fans (I’m sure) I scoured the internet  for snippets of Crowe’s singing ability and what I found varied from growly country star to something more polished , it all left me still on the fence. It has been reported that he’s had at least 6 months classical training in preparation though so maybe he’ll astound (in a good way of cause).
Anne Hathaway and Amanda Seyfried are set to play Fantine and her illegitimate daughter Cosette. Can Hathaway pull off the part of a broken down woman with little option and promise? I certainly hope so because of all the cast, I’m rooting for her the most. Why? Quite simply (and selfishly) I love her. She has a serene , niave quality that makes her believable and if the trailer is anything to go by (more on that later) boy can that girl sing. Seyfried I don’t know much about apart Mama Mia of course but Cosette is both beautiful and passionate; qualities, it’s fair to say, that are shared with the girl stepping into her shoes.It will be interesting to see if she can put the emotion needed into two of the biggest relationships in Les Mis; Cosette’s love Marius (played by theatre stage veteran Eddie Redmayne) and of course her connection to Valjean. 
The last character/casting combination I am going to mention in detail (otherwise I really will be here all day) is Samantha Barks as Eponine, the unfortunate offspring of the Thenardiers who falls in love with Marius. It is reported that Barks beat several people to the role including Glee’s Lea Michele and pop starlet Taylor Swift but then she did put in a blinding performance at the 25th Anniversary concert so I’m sure that gave her     
kudos over the others who were considered. I for one am glad she won out, she has been the cause of  some of those emotional tears I described earlier.
The comedic reprise that Les Miserables the musical so needs comes from The Thernardiers who are played by Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen and 12 year old Daniel Huttlestone brings life to cheeky street urchin Gavroche. You can see a full list of cast members here.
So what about the trailer? My first glimpse of what to really expect from the new film due to be released in Decemeber of this year..
I was a little taken aback to be fair. Firstly, for a story that more or less centres around Valjean he hardly features but then I have to keep reminding myself that this is a cinematic trailer for something that is highly anticipated by a concrete fan base but does have a lot of stars in and has to appeal to the mass market. It is a fantastic teaser though, it certainly looks the part and Hathaway’s rendition of ‘I dream a dream’ … goose bumps!
photo credits:  http://www.lesmiserablesfilm.com/

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