NEW YORK -- Having just come from interviewing the cast of "Les Miserables," I can tell you there is a genuine excitement in the air. Tom Hooper's adaptation of the long-running and now classic musical was a difficult gig for everyone involved and the almost unanimous enthusiasm over the finished product has clearly lifted a weight off their shoulders (you'd have to assume Hooper's as well, but he was still in Los Angeles where he attended last night's Governors Awards).
Many moviegoers don't like to watch clips before seeing a film, but if you're still unsure what the hype is all about these four should make it incredibly clear. Hooper's decision to have his actors sing live is close to a game changer and are one reason "Les Miz" is going to be part of the Oscar discussion for quite some time. Universal Pictures was also smart in making sure each preview was over a minute long so viewers could appreciate the performances and music at work.
The first clip, embedded at the top of this post, features "At the End of the Day" sung by Anne Hathaway and, effectively, the film's chorus.
Javert releases the prisoner features the operatic sing song between Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) and Javert (Russell Crowe). Crowe, unfortunately, is the weakest performance in the film and watching this clip will immediately tell you why.
One of Jackman's shining moments is with the song "Who Am I." This is a good portion of the scene, but without its climactic moment in a French courtroom (have to save something for the theater).
"Les Miserables" second half features the emotional and uplifting romance between Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) and Marius (Eddie Redmayne) that begins with "A Heart Full of Love." The former has a surprisingly beautiful voice, but the latter? Well, I'm not sure he work in "Mamma Mia" provided a hint she could sound this angelic.
The big discovery in "Les Miserables" is British newcomer Samantha Barks (at least to audiences outside the U.K.). Hear her a sample of her wonderful rendition of "On My Own" in the final preview from "Les Miz" and you'll understand why, like Hathaway, she's receiving best supporting actress buzz.
"Les Miserables" will begin its love affair with audiences as it opens nationwide on Christmas Day.