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“Les Misérables,” based on the popular stage show adaptation of Victor Hugo’s novel, is a bold and grand film that holds its own among this year’s Best Picture nominees with the raw performances of its star-studded cast. The opening scene sets up the film beautifully, introducing the sheer dramatic force of the rest of the film. Jean Valijean, played brilliantly by Hugh Jackman opens the film with a vocal intensity that he pours into his singing. Other actors also demonstrate their musical chops. As a poor factory worker, Anne Hathaway’s rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” is chilling.

When recording the film, the actors sang their parts while listening to a pianist via earpieces; the orchestral track was added later. The result is a rough but beautifully intimate rendition of the songs made famous on London’s West End and New York’s Broadway stages. At times, the movie may feel quite heavy. There is very little dialogue, and after a while, even the emotional punches become a bit wearisome. However, the performances resonate with feeling, and the gorgeous scenery is something that can only be conveyed on the big screen. This is a good film to skip for those who are not entertained by musicals, but fans of the original stage musical and other musical theatre productions will no doubt appreciate this rendition of “Les Misérables.”

Film Grade: A-

James is a member of the class of 2016.

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