'Les Miserables' Review: Adaptation Will Win Over Even Ambivalent Musical Theater Patrons

Over the last 30-odd years, I have somehow managed to remain innocent of all things "Les Misérables."

From its germination in Paris through its conquest of London’s West End, its 16 years on Broadway (plus another two in revival), its profusion of international productions (in some 20 languages), and its various vinyl and CD incarnations, I had until now seen not a moment and heard not a note (well, not very many notes) of this globe-throttling musical. So perhaps I can offer a fresh, nonpartisan assessment of Tom Hooper’s new film version.

First of all, it’s huge, not least in terms of its run time. In a season of sprawling Oscar-nudgers, "Les Miz," at two hours and 37 minutes, is longer than "Lincoln," just as long as "Zero Dark Thirty," and nearly as long as "Django Unchained" and the current champion butt-tester, "The Hobbit." The cast is suitably large, and ranges in musical expertise from such seasoned belters as Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway to such unexpected vocalists as Eddie Redmayne (surprisingly terrific) and Russell Crowe. Yes, Russell Crowe. I know he has long fronted his own Aussie rock group, but that hasn’t quite prepared him for this.

Any movie that begins with Crowe stepping forth in song is a movie that summons dark fears. But while he does seem a little puzzled about why he’s here, he’s not bad, and he is a fine actor, of course, and he gets better as the story—distilled from Victor Hugo’s doorstopping novel—moves along.

Read the full review at Reason.com


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