I've seen Les Misérables on Broadway, at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, at several high schools, on PBS in concert from Royal Albert Hall (10th Anniversary), and in the movie theater in concert from O2 Arrena (25th Anniversary). It's without question that I love the show. I saw the 2012 film on Christmas morning. There are no words I can use, no praise I can lavish, that can sufficiently describe how remarkable it was.
Yes, it has some minor faults. There was Thénardier as the only character with a French accent. Perhaps it was to help him pretend to be more upper crust in a sea of British accents, but it was out of place. The singing wasn't always perfect. So what! If a voice cracked or a note was a bit sour, it made the characters more human and their emotions (and those of the actors themselves) very real. It's one thing to play a role, and another to LIVE the role. I think that's what lifted Les Misérables to a different level. Every actor in the film seemed invested in his or her character and became that character.
I expected an outstanding performance from multi-talented Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean and was overwhelmed with its power. As far as I'm concerned, he more than deserves every best actor award that is given for 2012. The same can be said for Anne Hathaway as Fantine. I could feel every bit of emotional and physical pain that she endured. I was leery of Russell Crowe as Javert, but his performance was honest and nuanced. He did not dissapoint, even in his final scene. Amanda Seyfried and Eddie Redmayne were excellent as Cosette and Marius, and Samantha Barks reprised her stand-out appearance as Éponine from the 25th Anniversary concert. The child actors, Daniel Huttlestone as Gavroche and Isabelle Allen as the young Cosette, delivered strong performances. Even Sacha Baron Cohen (in spite of the French accent) and Helena Bonham Carter made the Thénardiers more human and less irritatingly cartoonish than in the stage and concert productions I've seen. A special and moving performance was that of Colm Wilkinson, who played Valjean on Broadway, in the role of the Bishop.
There was magic in the theater from the opening
scene through the finale. The cinematography was above and beyond. It
was part of what made this film so special. Unlike the stage
production, the cameras were able to focus on details that are missing
from a live performance and added to the depth of the story. You are
there with men being worked to death in the opening. You watch the
barricade, which is just there as an integral part of the scenery on
stage, being built and see where it fits in the city. The sewer scene
becomes horrific. I was wondering how they would handle the finale, and
I won't spoil it with any details. Suffice that it was perfect.
I've seen several films that took me to a different plane or had me crying for days, even years, after watching them. What took me by surprise with this one is that I looked up and actually thanked the Almighty for giving me the experience of Les Misérables.