So, I and my sister Lydia from A Tardis-Traveller's Guide to the Whoniverse went to see Les Miserables. We got into the theatre, and suffered through at least nine somewhat stupid previews. Then, the familiar strains of "Work Song" burst through the theatre, as the camera focused on a shipyard full of convicts. I looked over at my sister, and we both nodded in unison.
Hugh Jackman's performance as Valjean was wonderful, in that he integrated his acting into his singing, and at times, I found it hard to watch his highly emotive performance in "What Have I Done" and "Bring Him Home." As the lead, he performed well, and was a compelling Valjean.
Unfortunately, Russell Crowe seemed to be struggling with his singing in "Stars." Instead of pressing the urgency and vindication Javert ought to be feeling, he seems to be trying to reach the notes of the number, thus not conveying much emotion through his singing.
Anne Hathaway, on the other hand, was an excruciatingly believable Fantine who conveyed her desperation to not only stay alive, but to keep her daughter safe at all costs. Her performance of "I Dreamed a Dream" was tremendous, and though she has relatively short screen time, she is captivating in the role of Fantine.
Throughout the film, the director integrates sections of the book, in events such as Cosette and Valjean's fleeing from Javert, and in the camera shots, Hugo's presence is also felt. The sweeping aerial shots of Paris recall Victor Hugo's unflinching descriptions in the book. The section at the beginning of the second act, which involves Gavroche (Daniel Huttlestone) running through the streets of Paris with his compatriots, call to mind the chapter on the Gamin (street urchin) of Paris: the discarded Elephant statue in which Gavroche sleeps also makes an appearance.
Influenced by both the musical and the book, despite the sometimes flawed harmonies and deleted lyrics, this movie is a thrill to watch.