'Les Miserables' first look: We saw it and Anne Hathaway killed
Anne Hathaway in 'Les Miserables' (Photo: Universal Pictures)
Anne Hathaway: Start writing your acceptance speech. Now that I've seen "Les Miserables," I can confirm that "The Dark Knight Rises" star, who plays the doomed factory-worker-turned-prostitute Fantine -- and sings her tonsils off -- has hit a very high note. In her supporting turn, Hathaway sings the signature song "I Dreamed a Dream" and brings the audience to tears. She's like musical meat tenderizer -- once the tears start flowing, they don't stop for the rest of the movie.
Director Tom Hooper (who won an Oscar for "The King's Speech" two years ago) cast Hathaway perfectly. She has star power to burn, has the bones to look good emaciated in rags -- and vocal talent. This is the kind of strong, critical supporting role that undeniably scores Oscars. (She'll get the Golden Globe, too!)
And here's something that I learned at the post-screening Q&A: Hathaway's mother, who was in the audience, played the role of Fantine in a Philadelphia production when Anne was only seven. Hathaway appeared onstage afterward, her hair having grown to an appealing, but still short, Peter Pan-pixie. In the movie, Fantine sells her locks to pay a debt, and Hathaway gave hers up on camera for the role. "When I eventually looked in the mirror I just thought I looked like my gay brother," she told the by-invitation-only audience.
'Les Miserables' Sneaks for Stars and Industry Insiders at Alice Tully Hall
I saw the movie at the very first public screening Friday at 3 P.M. at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall. Also in attendance were Hathaway, Hooper and co-stars Eddie Redmayne, Amanda Seyfried and Samantha Barks. I brought my team of experts -- my two vocally-trained teenagers and their musician father. I admit it: I don't have a musical ear so I brought in some ringers. As the pumped-up crowd filled all the seats in the theater, I spied a man in the wings of the stage, drinking a bottle of water and pacing. I thought it was a stagehand but, no, when the house lights dimmed it turned out to be Hooper himself, pacing nervously and peeking through the curtains to get a look at the audience.
Oscar-winning Director Tom Hooper Gives Thanks
When the tall, jeans-clad English director -- last seen picking up his Oscar for "The King's Speech" two years ago -- took the stage, he opted for a charming humility. He told the capacity matinee audience: "I'm thankful that I've finished." He confessed that he'd completed the film at two a.m. He also quipped, "I'm grateful to Victor Hugo, who can't be here with us." The classic novel's author died in France in 1885.
The Audience Thanked Hooper with a Standing Ovation
Hooper didn't need to worry about the audience reaction. The crowd was as rapturous as tween girls at a "One Direction" concert. They greeted the conclusion of the many, many musical numbers with applause and clapped for the director and each performer at the end credits. If you tracked the applause, it seemed that Jackman, Crowe, Hathaway, Redmayne and newcomer Barks got a little extra love. Then came the standing ovation. Yes. And it was spontaneous.
But remember, it was spontaneous among a New York crowd of insiders anticipating a big success -- or a big failure.