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Film Review: Les Miserables Starring Former Child Actress Anne Hathaway

December 06, 2012

As a faithful rendering of a justly beloved musical, "Les Miserables" will more than satisfy the show's legions of fans. Even so, director Tom Hooper and the producers have taken a number of artistic liberties with this lavish bigscreen interpretation: The squalor and upheaval of early 19th-century France are conveyed with a vividness that would have made Victor Hugo proud, heightened by the raw, hungry intensity of the actors' live oncamera vocals. Yet for all its expected highs, the adaptation has been managed with more gusto than grace; at the end of the day, this impassioned epic too often topples beneath the weight of its own grandiosity.

The Universal release will nonetheless be a major worldwide draw through the holidays and beyond, spelling a happy commercial ending for a project that has been in development for roughly a quarter-century. Since its 1985 London premiere, the Cameron Mackintosh-produced tuner (adapted from Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schoenberg's French production) has became one of the longest-running acts in legit history, outpaced only by "The Phantom of the Opera" and "Cats." "Les Miserables" has aged far more gracefully than those two '80s-spawned perennials, owing largely to the lush emotionalism of Schoenberg's score, the timeless sentiments articulated in Herbert Kretzmer's lyrics, and the socially conscious themes, arguably more relevant than ever, set forth in Hugo's much-filmed masterwork. Read More