For all the well deserved praise for Hathaway, It is Hugh Jackman at the center of this film. To bring Jean Val Jean to life he aged thirty years with four distinct faces while singing and acting each age to perfection – a totally multilayered performance. All of it was done while up to his chest in icy water, climbing through snow-covered mountains in threadbare robes, slogging through watered peat sludge and physically changing in order to achieve the correct look for each stage of the role. In the process he lifted masts, carts, children, and two full-grown bodies while filming, acting, and singing each song live repeatedly for 10 – 12 hours a day. Then he topped it off by being the lead and at the center of a great ensemble cast that made every one of his fellow actors better.
There are some flaws in the editing that makes it seem rushed or crowded and I could have lived without the mugging and accent changes of the over done Master of the House but otherwise the whole cast gives you the stage musical as a new interpretation that only a film can create.