Anne Hathaway shines in epic film version of Les Miserables

Hathaway is brilliant as the seamstress who falls into prostitution; Russell Crowe’s singing raises questions

LAST UPDATED AT 12:04 ON Fri 7 Dec 2012

APART from a couple of nay-sayers who'll be heading for the guillotine if true devotees have their way, the film version of the long-running stage musical Les Miserables has received a big thumbs-up from film critics.

The movie, which had its premiere in London's Leicester Square on Wednesday night and doesn't open at cinemas until 11 January, is "the most ambitious"British film of all time and "quite possibly"the best, writes Chris Tookey in the Daily Mail.

The sight of Hugh Jackman as the revolutionary Jean Valjean storming the barricades in 19th century Paris will "raise your spirits and make you cry”, he writes.

The Independent's Nicola Christie is just as enthusiastic, praising the "emotional punch"of the cast's "raw, real and devastating"performances in her five-star review. Director Tom Hooper, who made the Oscar-winning The King's Speech, has "reinvented the movie musical and created a whole new generation of Les Mis lovers”.

Anne Hathaway, who plays the tragic heroine Fantine, is singled out for praise by Robbie Collin of The Daily Telegraph. He says the fact that a £40m epic feels intimate is largely due to her "extraordinarily deeply-felt performance"as a seamstress who falls into prostitution.

"Everything about the film is enormous, from Claude-Michel Schönberg's cannon-fire score to its bladder-twitching two-hour, 40-minute running time,"writes Collin. "Every last frame is rocket-launched at the back row of the cinema."

Kate Muir, chief film critic at The Times, dares to suggest that it's a "Marmite movie"which some will love for its reinvention of the movie musical and others will find difficult to take. She observed that some members of the first-night audience "sat stony-faced, wincing at big box-office actors trying to sing”.

Muir says Hathaway has no trouble delivering the signature ballad, I Dreamed a Dream, turning it into "a ragged, existential howl of agony”. But Russell Crowe as the officious police Inspector Javert "is on the far edge of his vocal abilities”. · 

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