Les Miserables (12A, 114 mins)
Tom Hooper, Oscar-winning director of The King’s Speech, dreamed a dream of immortalising Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil’s powerhouse musical without the conventional safety net of lip-synching. That audacious gamble - asking the actors to sing live in every take - pays off handsomely, teasing out the heartbreaking emotion in an adaptation of a stage show which has become a global phenomenon.
The London production of Les Miserables, which opened in 1985 to lukewarm reviews, is the longest-running musical in West End history.
Hooper’s terrific film embraces the Schonberg and Boublil songbook with bold directorial flourishes and tour-de-force performances, including a cri de coeur from Anne Hathaway that virtually guarantees her the Oscar next month.
Hugh Jackman also richly deserves a nomination for his fearless portrayal of a convict, which required the Australian actor to shed 30 pounds to convincingly portray his emaciated hero.
The cast is superb - Barks breaks hearts with her knockout rendition of On My Own and Redmayne matches her note for soaring note.
Only Crowe is miscast. His soft, sweet vocals render Javert somewhat impotent next to Jackman’s booming delivery.
Bonham Carter and Baron Cohen provide stomach-churning comic relief.