The first movie trailer for the screen adaptation of Les Miserables the musical (not to be confused with countless prior adaptations of the original Victor Hugo novel) is here.  The trailer features Anne Hathaway as she’s never been seen before as the desperate and sickly French worker Fantine, singing “I Dreamed a Dream.”

Check it out:

It all looks very epic and bleak–hence, the misery of the title.  I know audiences love the Fantine song but I’m thinking I would have marketed this more as a rousing war movie, as the best part of Les Mis the musical in my view were the big chorus numbers with the soldiers or the “Master of the House” bit.

Hathaway in Les Mis.

Epic historical costume dramas focusing on music have to work to find their audience, and once in a while, as with Amadeus, you score a hit that brings everyone to the theater.  Is Les Mis capable of that success?

Crowe and Jackman in Les Mis.

With as much as the adaptation of the musical of The Phantom of the Opera had going for it, with superb performances by Emmy Rossum (The Day After Tomorrow, Poseidon) as Christine, Gerard Butler (Timeline, 300, Tomorrow Never Dies) as the Phantom, Minnie Driver (The Riches, Ella Enchanted, X-Files, GoldenEye) as Carlotta, Patrick Wilson (Watchmen, A Gifted Man) as Raoul, Ciaran Hinds (The Woman in Black, Munich, Harry Potter VII, Pt 2, Ghost Rider II, Lara Croft II, Road to Perdition, The Sum of All Fears, Mary Reilly, Excalibur) as Firmin, and Simon Callow (Doctor Who, Amadeus, Shakespeare in Love, Howard’s End) as Andre, it did not receive the critical acclaim it deserved.  It will take an incredibly well done Les Mis film to out-do The Phantom, so this new film has a lot to overcome.  And even then it may take a lot to get folks to see it again but this time on-screen or less likely, see it on-screen without first seeing the musical.

Patrick Wilson and Emmy Rossum in the brilliant adaptation of the musical of The Phantom of the Opera.

Hopefully more interesting, and not yet revealed, will be performances by Sacha Baron Cohen (Talladega Nights, The Dictator) and Helena Bonham Carter (Alice in Wonderland, Frankenstein, Harry Potter series) as the horrible inn keepers.  But Hugh Jackman looks appropriately haggard as Jean Valjean and Russell Crowe looks uncharacteristically vile as the relentless Javert.  Amanda Seyfried looks just plain miscast as Cosette.  Can Hathaway pull off a singing and gritty role like Fantine?  She’s done serious work before and was great in the musical Ella Enchanted, although that was a comedy and didn’t require that she take herself seriously.  If she can pull this role off–a role that might as well be up there with the best known Shakepearean characters–it could catapult her into a different league of actresses and away from the typical modern 20-something roles.

Les Miserables hits theaters December 14, 2012.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

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