It is a shame, really, that an epic musical film like this is getting a “Highlights from the Motion Picture” treatment. Fans of the Boublil and Schonberg’s stage musical would know the soaring melodies and the heart breaking lyrics by heart, but this 20 track soundtrack album can only but tease while leaving listeners wondering what happened to the rest of the material on the 158 minute film directed by the Oscar winning Tom Hooper.
The 65 minute album kicks off with “Look Down” featuring Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean and Russell Crowe (much has been said about his coarse vocals) as Javert. The track sets the tone for the big numbers that follow, including “The Bishop” (listen out for Colm Wilkinson, who played Jean Valjean on stage, as the merciful bishop) and “At the End of the Day” (where Anne Hathaway’s Fantine first makes her appearance).
Given Hathaway’s limited screen time in the film as the ill fated Fantine, we are guessing it is the tune “I Dreamed a Dream” which earned her the Best Supporting Actress Oscar statuette at the 2013 Academy Awards. Listen to the four and a half minute track to feel goosebumps and realise how tragic and unfair life can be.
The other tear jerking song on the album is “On My Own” performed by Samantha Barks, who plays Eponine (where is her Oscar nomination, dammit!) in the film. You’d want to love this girl, as she belts out how she “is talking to myself and not to him” about a doomed romance.
There are a number of ensemble pieces which are worth blasting on this soundtrack. “Master of the House” featuring Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter is a hoot, while “ABC Café/ Red and Black” featuring Eddie Redmayne and Aaron Tveit is patriotically rousing. The highlight of the disc has to be “One Day More” which showcases the entire cast in a stirringly inspiring number.
It is really a shame then, considering how everyone will be hungry to hear more of the familiar tunes sung by their favourite movie stars. Still, this is one recommended album to spin on your player, but how can anyone miss the jarring exclusion of “Can You Hear the People Sing?” – ah, the audacity!
Recommended Track: (13) One Day More – Cast
Review by John Li