starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Sacha Baron Cohen
screenplay by William Nicholson, Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schönberg, Herbert Kretzmer, based on Boublil & Schönberg's stage play and the novel by Victor Hugo
directed by Tom Hooper
by Walter Chaw The title refers to the audience; imagine director Tom Hooper as James Cagney in The Public Enemy, and you're Mae Clarke getting the grapefruit shoved in your face. Yes, Hooper's glacial, note-for-note screen adaptation of Schönberg & Boublil's smash musical Les Misérables is 157 minutes of extreme close-up/wide-angle theatre threatening, at every moment, to slide completely off the screen, given the accidental-auteur's propensity to ignore half the frame. It's ugly in the way that only films driven by fanatical vision, unfettered by checks, and galvanized by awards and money can be ugly--so much time is spent horning in up Hugh Jackman's nose that I spent the first day or so of it thinking I was watching a musical about spelunking. It's a picture that doesn't respect your personal space: I've never more wanted to mace a movie than this, the umpteenth adaptation of Victor Hugo's epic but the first of the Broadway phenomenon that pretty much defined the best way to get into a high-school girl's good graces in the 1980s. After this ordeal, I'd offer that still the best way this musical's ever appeared on film was its iconic poster making a cameo on Patrick Bateman's bathroom wall in American Psycho.