I went in to see 'Les Miserables' never having read the book or even seen the stage show or the 1998 film adaptation, so when I did I really had almost no idea what to expect.
But although I think you could argue that the film is flawed along the way I ended up absolutely LOVING this big, brash and unashamedly emotional tale of love and redemption set against the social turmoil of France with it's big songs, big performances and it's ability to take you for three hours and put you through the emotional ringer.
As the long struggle between Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) and Javert (Russell Crowe) spans the decades, and as many characters move in and out of their story director Tom Hooper paints a much grander canvas than his previous film, the Oscar winning 'The King's Speech' and goes full throttle to take maximum emotion to his audience of lives begun, ended, shattered and built.
No single moment possibly encapsulates this better than approximately four minutes of the film, when Anne Hathaway completely shatters you with her 'I Dreamed a Dream' and creates possibly the film's emotional peak and deservedly locked her down for the Oscar she won for the role. In a film filled with emotional crescendo's and despite competition from Samantha Barks later with 'On My Own' Hathaway creates a moment of pure cinema that resonates long afterwards.
The whole cast is exceptional, and although their singing voices vary (while Crowe was criticised his rough around the edges, throaty vocals seem to fit Javert well) almost all the cast have voices that work just fine even if Jackman, Hathaway, Barks and Eddie Redmayne probably have the best voices.
Visual effects and stupendous set design help to create the feel of France in the period and this is a film I've been anticipating adding to my home collection ever since I saw it in cinemas. A fantastic piece of entertainment!