Do you hear the people sing? After the release of the first trailer for the big-deal Les Miserables adaptation, the more pressing question is: Do you hear Anne Hathaway sing? The actress plays the doomed peasant Fantine in Tom Hooper's (The King's Speech) take on the hit Broadway musical (itself an adaptation of Victor Hugo's literary classic), and the first trailer is set to her surprisingly awesome rendition of the ballad "I Dreamed a Dream." (Watch the video below.) Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried, and Helena Bonham Carter are among the A-listers set to storm the barricades when Les Mis storms theaters this Christmas. Here, four takeaways from critics:
1. Anne Hathaway's "I Dreamed a Dream" is heartbreaking
This "trailer is all Anne," says Amanda Dobbins at New York. She makes a jarring first impression with her "remarkably raw voice" and alarming, sickly appearance as the dying Fantine. And when the orchestra begins to swell and Hathaway nails the "I had a dream my life would be/So different from this hell I'm living" climax, it's hard not to be moved. And she sounds so natural, says Sandy Schaefer at Screen Rant. The vocals were recorded live during filming, and are presented without a hint of technical sweetening — making for a much "more organic" performance.
2. But she'll barely be in the movie
Hathaway obviously steals the show here, says Hilary Busis at Entertainment Weekly, but it's a case of "flagrant false advertising." The Hathaway-centric trailer hints that she's the female lead, but as we all know — "150-year-old spoiler alert!" — Fantine dies quite early. It's her daughter Cosette and "scrappy Eponine" who share the spotlight with Jean Valjean and Javert. Too bad the trailer fails to show off the pipes of Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, and Amanda Seyfried.
3. The film looks fittingly epic
Forget the singing, says Sarah Anne Hughes at The Washington Post. The "gritty and gray universe is visually stunning," particularly when Jackman's Jean Valjean performs manual labor in the water and Fantine has her "head sheared like a farm animal." Gorgeously grim set decoration, sweeping shots of the French rebels storming the barricades, and the actors' "gaunt appearances" all add up to what appears to be an epic and "authentic" period piece, says Schaefer.
4. It should be a major box office hit
When the trailers for The Avengers or Christopher Nolan's Batman reboot first went online, they "sent chills down spines" of comic book fans who had waited years for that footage, says Matt Patches at Hollywood. "That's how I imagine musical theater buffs must feel" now. Plus, says Sean O'Connell at Cinema Blend, "when Hollywood nails the musical genre, the film industry can provide sweeping entertainment for the masses." Don't be so sure, says Schaefer. The movie may still struggle to resonate with those who aren't fans of musical melodramas.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- The Hobbit: A disappointing set of movies, but a worthy set of prequels
- America is building a Sunni army in Iraq to take on the Islamic State
- Dick Cheney's America is an ugly place
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- The liberation of Barack Obama
- How to make the ultimate grilled cheese
- The age of miracles is over — even for the religious
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- What the media gets wrong about Jeb Bush
Subscribe to the Week