Moving “Misèrables”

The new movie of “Les Misèrables,” which received 8 Oscar nominations and is up for several Golden Globe awards this Sunday, is a strange thing. It’s based on a mediocre musical, and with the exception of Samantha Barker’s Eponine and Eddie Redmayne’s Marius, it’s not particularly well-sung.

Director Tobe Hooper’s decision to film the actors singing, instead of recording the soundtrack later, cuts both ways though. On the one hand, you’d get a more polished musical performance with a recorded soundtrack.

On the other, there’s a rawness to the singing that underlines the emotionalism of the material. “Les Misèrables” is really about the way expressivity gives meaning to suffering. That the characters can feel so deeply and give voice to those feelings enables them to endure.

The entire cast, led by Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway and Russell Crowe, commits to this idea, holding nothing back. Say what you want about the production, but this “Les Miz” has the courage of its convictions, not the least of which is the splendid notion that love is a kind of redemption. – Georgette Gouveia

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