Tag Archives: Eddie Redmayne

Les Misérables (2013)

“I had a dream my life would be so different from this hell I’m living!”

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway

MV5BMTQ4NDI3NDg4M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjY5OTI1OA@@._V1._SY317_Adapted from a West End show – not a usual occurrence  – Les Misérables is quite the epic.

The story follows the life of Jean Valjean, a criminal on the run after breaking parole. A cat and mouse chase ensues after Javert, a merciless policeman, vows to make him pay for his wrong doings. In addition to this, Valjean has also agreed to raise a factory worker’s child when she no longer can, making his duplicitous life even more challenging to hide. Set in 19th-century France we also see the film deal with the French Revolution, so there is quite a nice substance to the story.

Given the synopsis, Les Mis is really all about Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe, who play Jean Valjean and Javert respectively. With their showdowns becoming a recurring theme throughout the film, they provide some of the best interactions. As these events are such pivotal moments too, these scenes had to be the most intriguing and captivating to watch, which they most definitely were. Right from the outset these two had established a tense relationship and that didn’t dwindle for one moment. The whole story has been spun from their differences and you feel for both characters and their own life goals. For both actors to pull this off and have the audience rooting for them is quite a feat to accomplish; while it would initially seem Valjean was the protagonist and Javert the antagonist, it becomes clear that it isn’t as black and white as that.

Two actors who I didn’t even know were in the film, but who made it that bit better, were Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter. As Thénardier and Madame Thénardier, two swindling innkeepers, they bring a light, comedic relief to the film. The child actors were surprisingly good too, especially since they both played rather important parts. Isabelle Allen was in the role of a young Cosette, the factory worker’s daughter, and Daniel Huttlestone as Gavroche, a boy who gets caught up fighting for the revolution. It was great to see such young people in the film, bringing a fresh lease of life with them.

After finding out Anna Hathaway had been nominated for so many awards (winning at the Golden Globes too), I expected a bigger part out of her. While she did play a great role and cut off all of her hair (maybe this is why she was nominated?), I don’t think it was Oscar worthy. Don’t get me wrong, as Fantine she did pull at my heartstrings and she portrayed this broken woman very well, but Oscar worthy, no.

One thing I didn’t know about Les Mis is that it is all song. I thought maybe it was a normal story interlaced with song, but it’s not, it is full on singing from start to end. At times it was tedious and drawn out, but it can be really powerful in some scenes. It’s also pretty amazing to think that the story has been completely written like this, and for it to work so well is amazing.

One of the things I felt could have been improved upon was the length. Towards the middle of the film, when Amanda Seyfried and Eddie Redmanye took centre stage, I felt like the film lost its umph a bit. Rather than moving at a swift pace the story seemed to slow down and I wasn’t all that interested in the love triangle these young’uns got caught up in. I think this part of the film could have been tighter to keep the audience more interested and shorten the massive 2 hours 37 minutes the film already sat at.

Les Misérables is a great West End to film adaptation. With actors such as Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway leading the cast, there was a flicker of hope even before the film was released. Thankfully the majority of them can sing – which is a huge bonus – though there were the odd few who didn’t carry the vocal strength you would expect in a musical. Nevertheless, Les Mis is a must see, both on film and the West End.

Star rating:  7.5/10

Directed by Tom Hooper.

Running time 157 minutes.

My Week with Marilyn (2011)

“People always see Marilyn Monroe. As soon as they realise I’m not her, they run”

Cast: Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne and Kenneth Branagh

In the summer of 1956 Colin Clark set out to make his way in the film business, finding work as a lowly assistant on the set of ‘The Prince and the Showgirl’. During his time there Clark kept a diary, ‘The Prince, the Showgirl and Me’, which was published nearly 40 years after the film. One week was missing (though published a few years later), ‘My Week with Marilyn’ tells the story of that week.

While I’m way too young to have known Marilyn Monroe when she was around, she has always fascinated me. Her short-lived life was filled with drama and intrigue and has left her an icon among the people. Surprisingly Monroe hasn’t been portrayed in a full-length feature film before (apart from made-for-TV drama ‘Norma Jean & Marilyn’), so My Week with Marilyn is one to set the bar.

Initially, the biggest issue surrounding the film was who was playing Monroe. When Williams was cast though, there was no doubt in my mind she could pull it off. Her gritty, indie vibe really allows her to get into character and rather than portraying this bigger than life, blonde sex-kitten we are all too familiar with, we instead see a complex, layered and vulnerable woman who just wanted to be loved. Everything, from her mannerisms to her internal conflict and wants to be accepted, was spot on.

Redmayne was also very impressive. His character is arguably the heart of the film and as the timid, star-stuck Colin, his talents really shine. Spending a week with Monroe and showing her the beauties of England, he falls in love with her – not the showgirl who entertains but the woman beneath. This relationship is wonderful to watch blossom as in this time, Monroe is stripped of her fame and troubles and is just a regular woman – something the world often forgot she was.

We also see appearances from Judi Dench and Emma Watson, adding further dimensions to how Monroe was received by other people – naive, troubled, sexualised, promiscuous, renowned – and lessening the focus of Laurence Olivier’s volatile and strained attitude towards her, which at times was sad to watch.

My Week with Marilyn is a great watch. You won’t get the sexualised, blonde bombshell normally portrayed but you will see fragmented bits and pieces of the iconographic woman she became in the public eye. Portraying the woman behind the facade and giving more substance to Monroe than just the typical caricature the world likes to display, this film still only just scratches the surface. I have no doubt there will be more to come in the future, but My Week with Marilyn is the first film to show us the girl behind the name.

Star rating:  7/10

Directed by Simon Curtis.

Running time 99 minutes.