[Rafael Garcin/Unsplash]

Les Miserables

00:00 December 28, 2012
By: Fritz Esker
[Courtesy of Universal Pictures]

** 1/2 out of 4

The hit Broadway musical Les Miserables (based on the classic Victor Hugo novel) has been adapted into a feature film directed by Tom Hooper (The King's Speech).The good news is it's not as stiff and lifeless as Andrew Lloyd Webber adaptations like Evita and Phantom of the Opera. The bad news is it's still a bit short of being memorable.

Hugh Jackman plays Jean Valjean, a paroled convict who must ditch his former identity to secure a better future for himself. This attracts the attention of the relentless Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe) and a chase is spawned, spanning decades and the film's 157 minute running time.

Fans of the stage musical will likely enjoy the film, as the film's biggest flaw is also the stage version's biggest flaw. The Valejan/Javert dynamic that dominates the film's first half is compelling, as is the interplay between Valjean and the doomed Fantine (a very good Anne Hathaway). Unfortunately, Valjean and Javert eventually take a back seat to the by-the-numbers romance between Valjean's adopted daughter Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) and bland revolutionary Marius (Eddie Redmayne), who are easily the two least interesting characters in the play.

If you liked Les Miserables on stage, this is worth a look. If musicals aren't your cup of tea, you'll frequently be checking your watch.

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