I love a good stage production but I was really looking forward to the settings and cinematography that a movie would have. I knew Hugh Jackman had done live musicals and Amanda Seyfried had been in Mamma Mia, so I had hopes for the music. Musically, it turned out to be a mixed bag for me.
Emotionally, I found it fantastic and I cried more than once during the movie. Here's a breakdown of the main characters and my opinion about them. These are my opinions and I've read others who completely disagree with me, so the only opinion that really matters (sort of) is that I think it's powerful and you should go to it.
Fantine - Anne Hathaway has never been a favorite of mine. There's just something about her. I can't place my finger on it but her acting usually bugs me because she seems to take herself so seriously. Maybe that lent itself to this role, but I thought she was fantastic. Her singing was much better than I expected and she broke my heart in the role.
Jean Valjean - Hugh Jackman is a great actor. The "acting" he brought to one of the greatest roles ever was better than his singing. He was good, don't get me wrong. He hit all the right notes, but his singing never made me ache inside and that's what Colm Wilkinson and Alfie Boe have always done in this role. A nice little treat was that Colm Wilkinson played the Bishop. Sigh! I saw Alfie Boe sing "Bring Him Home" just 9 days earlier with the Tabernacle Choir, so honestly, Hugh Jackman was fighting an uphill battle to win me over musically.
Eponine - Samantha Barks played the role on Broadway and she was good. She's pretty in a unconventional way and her voice is beautiful.
Marius - Eddie Redmayne was my favorite surprise in the movie. I've always thought Marius was a little dull, even a little shallow, but Eddie Redmayne played him with an intensity and emotion that blew me away. And his singing was the best of the movie, for me. I could have listened to him all night. I loved the way they chose to do "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables." Instead of having the ghosts of his friends filling the stage, he sat in the empty room they used to meet in all alone. Just him. And he sang with a rare combination of emotion and control that I'd pay to see the movie again and again just to watch him. He was a highlight and while the cast recording would be weaker than the Broadway cast recording with almost every character, not so with Eddie.
Young Cosette and Gavroche - Fantastic and not at all precious or precocious. Just likable and sympathetic and adorable.
Cosette - Amanda Seyfried was pretty and her voice was pleasant. Her duet with Marius was nice but more because of him than her. I've never loved the grown-up Cosette though. The emotions of Eponine (and the fact that Eponine sings "On My Own") have always made me dislike Cosette a little. That may not be fair, but that's how I feel.
The Thenardiers - Helena Bonham-Carter and Sasha Baron Cohen were good as far as those roles go, but I can't stand the Thenardiers so I don't really care.
Javert - Russell Crowe was the most disappointing to me. I had high hopes since he's a singer. I mean, Brandon Flowers is the front man for a rock band and he could have belted out "Stars" and made me forget all about the injustices he was trying to inflict on Jean Valjean. In fact, I'd have let him deputize me and I'd have joined him in his misguided quest. Because of that, I hoped that since Russell Crowe is the frontman for 30 Odd Feet of Grunts (an Australian band), he'd be better. I found his singing really weak and I felt like his acting suffered because of it. Maybe he was self-councious since he was so musically out-talented but I just didn't feel any fire or passion from him and fire and passion are what drive the Javert character. How can such a big guy have such a small voice?
There you have it. Will I see it again? Oh yeah! Will I cry with Anne Hathaway and Eddie Redmayne again? Probably.
We took our children. Our youngest is 12. We had him cover his eyes during the entire Lovely Ladies segment and the Thenardiers.