Victor Hugo's 150-year-old tale of a morally scrupulous ex-convict who takes the daughter of a fallen woman as his own is turned into scintillating screen music by The King's Speech director Tom Hooper. Hugh Jackman was born to play Jean Valjean, the former prisoner who breaks parole to live a life of selfless decency while being hunted for decades by ruthless policeman Javert (Russell Crowe). An Oscar-winning Anne Hathaway contributes a heart-wrenching performance as the waif's mother while ribald laughs are provided by Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter as a thieving landlord and his slatternly wife. A genuinely impressive cinematic celebration of the classic tale of justice and redemption.
Sacha Baron Cohen
Helena Bonham Carter
As a global stage sensation, Les Mis has been blubbed at by more than 60 million people in 42 countries and in 21 languages after hitting the boards almost 30 years ago.
So it was only a matter of time before theatre impressario Cameron Mackintosh's lung-bursting adaptation of Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil's's take on Victor's Hugo's original tale blustered its way onto the big screen
Fortunately, the job has fallen to Oscar-winning director Tom Hooper, the British talent who managed to forge box office gold from the slight story of a stuttering royal overcoming a debilitating stammer.
He's lucky to have Hugh Jackman for the part of Jean Valjean, the noble ex-con sent down for 19 years after pinching a morsel of bread and whose justice odyssey provides the steel moral spine of the plot.
Breaking his parole, Valjean reinvents himself as a successful textile merchant and French mairie who pledges to care for Cosette, the orphaned waif of his tragic seamstress-turned-strumpet Fantine (Anne Hathaway).
However, never far behind is Crowe's relentless copper Javert, a piously implacable martinet determined to see the full force of the law brought down on Valjean.
With next to no speech and the voices recorded live (as opposed to being added in post-production), this places heavy demands on a cast not best known for parading their pipes in public.
Jackman and Hathaway - who gives a heart-rendingly damp performance of the Susan Boyle classic I Dreamed A Dream - rise magnificently to the challenge even if Crowe delivers the quavering musical equivalent of his olde Englishe accent in Robin Hood.
When constant barrages of grimy guttersnipes, pox-ridden whores, sneering aristos, miffed revolutionaries and general grinding poverty get too much there's thankfully Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter amusingly doubling up as a seamy innkeeper and his bawdy wife.
The second half concerns itself with rebellion, specifically the politically minded students - including the grown-up Cosette's suitor Marius (Redmayne - imagine Guy Pearce with all the charisma sucked out) - manning the Paris barricades.
However, it's the fate of the lion-hearted Valjean at the hands of his nemesis Javert that everybody's really bothered about...and this doesn't disappoint when the two men face off one last time.
Spectacular to look at and often poignantly beautiful to listen to, this won't let down the millions who have sighed at the stage play.
It could also capture the heart of non-miserabilists.