It's become a tradition for my Sitcom Group of Friends and I to go see a movie on New Years Day, following our New Years Eve "Fancy Dress House Party". This year we chose Les Miserables. I absolutely love musicals, and see a lot of shows on stage when they are in Toronto... however, I've never seen Les Miserables, and know only a few songs from it. (Yes, Katie Holmes singing "On my Own" in the first season of Dawson's Creek is one of the only references I have for that song. Shuddup.)
I was eager and interested in seeing this film, regardless, because of my love of musicals. This movie DID NOT disappoint! I was absolutely enthralled throughout the whole thing. The story was fresh to me, so I was shocked and surprised at many of the very sad and unexpected moments (unexpected for me, again I have zero Les Mis knowledge or experience). My friends who know Les Mis loved the film too, so it seems it was appealing to either type of person. I've heard they made changes from the play, some of the musical arrangements are different and some songs are shortened, but I think that makes sense since creating a film version of a stage show will need some differences in order to apply appropriate cinematic devices.
I was pleasantly surprised by all of the actors and their singing talent, and the drama and emotion brought to the screen. Anne Hathaway was incredibly enthralling, when she sang "I Dreamed a Dream", it was so emotional! I don't have much background knowledge of how she is as a singer, and I wasn't sure what to expect -- I was impressed! The children were also fantastic actors and singers, and Master of the House was hilariously performed by Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter -- excellent casting, that's for certain.
Overall, it was a very dramatic film, very depressing at times (but so it should be based on the title!), with a bit of comic relief by the dynamic duo of Cohen and Carter. If you are like me and don't know the play, but absolutely love musicals, I think you'd enjoy this film. If you do know the play, I think you'll be happy with this adaptation. I know that can be pretty subjective, but in my personal opinion it was a fantastic movie. I loved it. I'm going to watch out for the next time Les Miserables is on stage in Toronto, and will be making a conscious effort to get some tickets!