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Just about everyone knows someone who has been bullied, in ways big and small. Understandably, though, many victims are reluctant to speak about their experiences. We found some who aren't.
By Ellen Pham, Chamberlain High
I used to believe musical and film didn’t belong in the same sentence. But then I watched Les Misérables.
Based on Victor Hugo’s acclaimed novel and the popular stage musical, Les Misérables (Les Mis for short) succeeds in tackling the mighty feat of mixing song and cinema. Don’t get confused; this isn’t your run-of-the-mill Disney sing-along. Les Mis boasts booming vocal performances and strong instrumentals in addition to a layered storyline.
Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) has been Prisoner 24601 for years, but hope is restored when his prison guard, Javert (Russell Crowe) releases him. After the Bishop of Digne is tremendously kind to him, Valjean creates a new identity and chooses to live righteously.
Years pass and dire circumstances lead Valjean to encounter a dying mother, Fantine (Anne Hathaway). Moments before her last breath, Valjean promises Fantine he will take care of her daughter, Cosette, but talk of a revolution and constantly being chased by Javert makes looking after her a challenge.
Tom Hooper (King’s Speech) took a bold risk with the cast singing live, but it paid off. The actors give raw performances, soaked in emotion and sincerity. Hathaway’s I Dreamed a Dream, a snippet of which is featured in the trailer, is poignant and captivating, easily making it one of the best performances in the film. However, this doesn’t mean every song is perfect. There are a few scenes where the vocals are shaky. But frankly, it’s a movie and despite Hooper’s idealism, actors should place acting first and singing second.
The star-studded cast is — no surprise — wonderful. Hathaway’s extreme dedication to her role (losing weight before and during shooting, and cutting her hair off on camera to get an authentic reaction) is sure to land her an Oscar nomination. Jackman shows he can handle intensity and drama, drifting away from his action expertise as Wolverine in the X-Men series. Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen as the thrifty Thénardiers add much-needed comic relief to Les Mis.
The unlikely combination of music and film works beautifully, reminiscent of the time when it was common for movie characters to belt out songs unexpectedly, a time I now think I would have enjoyed. It’s grand. It’s over-the-top. It’s powerful. It’s Les Mis in all of its theatrical glory.