I found myself in an unusually crowded cinema on an average Monday night, mentally preparing myself for a solid three hours of singing, war, singing, French flags, singing and A-list celebrities without makeup. Oh, and singing. Obviously I’m talking about Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables, a lengthy period musical I was slightly embarrassed about seeing. I honestly thought the most enjoyment I would get from it was asking for two tickets to Lay Miz-err-arb-bleh in my most pretentious faux-French accent. But there’s a reason why it’s been nominated for a bunch of awards – it is a truly incredible film. This is not some cringeworthy, old-hat, sing-a-long featuring that ballad Susan Boyle made famous. It’s powerful, brutal, gutsy, moving and downright epic – truly a ‘man-musical’ if ever there was one.
Set during the bloody years of the French Revolution, the all-star cast gives it their absolute all, resulting in stunning performances from Hugh Jackman, Eddie Redmayne and Anne Hathaway. Hathaway’s ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ sequence is Oscar-worthy on its own. The fact that most of the vocals were recorded live on set is remarkable, given how brilliant the entire casts’ singing is (aside from the droning Russell Crowe – sorry). The show is almost stolen by the hilarious Helena Bonham Carter and Sasha Baron Cohen, whose ‘Master of the House’scene provides some much needed comic relief.
There is a lot of singing – and I mean a lot. As in, most of the dialogue is also sung. And there’s close to three hours of it. But fellow males, fret not! There are plenty of guns, cannons and blood to justify the taunts you may get from your mates. And for history buffs, the revolutionary backdrop is fascinating and visually stunning, if not a little embellished. It’s a marathon of a film (157 minutes!) so you should probably dress like you’re taking an overseas flight, but it is well worth sticking it out for the duration – the power, emotion and sentiment of the final triumphant scenes will leave you in awe. So don’t be afraid gentlemen – this is probably the manliest musical you will ever see. The only thing you’ll be sorry for is the ticket counter lady who had to endure your terrible French accent.