Thursday, December 27, 2012

Les Miserables - Review

I went to see Les Miz yesterday and although I don't normally bother to write reviews I thought this might be an important on to talk about.  I've been waiting...ohhh a year or so for this film, as I'm sure many others have, and I wanted to share my thoughts on it.

I heard mixed reviews of it - some loved it, some hated it.  One friend even said he had never in his life wanted to get up and walk out of the movie before Les Miz.  An hour in and I knew exactly how he felt.

Now, I'm not saying it's a bad movie, but, when you expect Les Miz, it's hard to stomach it in film format.  I found the editing to be excruciating, jumping from one scene to the next with no pauses between songs.  This is where stage to film fails.  There is never an actual physical changing of sets, no giving the audience an opportunity to applaud the performance and take a breather.  I found the close ups to be way too close (although maybe it was just made for a cinema bigger than the one I was in) and my eyes had trouble keeping up - I was in the very back row so I don't have a clue how the people in the front row managed!

I read lots of bad reviews of Russell Crowe's performance but I really liked him as Javert (I will state here that I am a big Crowe fan, in that 'can do no wrong in a movie' sort of way) and even tho he doesn't have the best voice, he played the part well and hit all the notes he was meant to. The only time I got a bit misty was when he put the medal on Gavroche's chest, so kudos to Crowe for eliciting a tear from me.

Hugh Jackman - I'm not sure if it was editing again, but I was finding his performance at the start of the film hard to believe.  It was almost too much, too painful.   Again with the choppy editing it was hard to focus on what he was saying/singing and get into his character. He was easier to watch later in the film when the cameras settled down.

Anne Hathaway - She played the part so well, but again just a touch over the top for my liking, which can be blamed on directing.  I was glad when Fantine dies because I had seen just about enough of Hathaway at that point.

Samantha Barks as Eponine was very nice to see as we all remember her from the 25th anniversary concert.  She is used to being on stage and performed the role with just the right amount of restraint.  She was the shining light in the whole movie.

Sasha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter - I didn't mind them as the innkeepers but I always find HBC plays her roles like she has been given a crushed up Valium in her porridge.  The innkeeper's wife and Mrs Lovett (Sweeney Todd) are boisterous, flamboyant characters and she plays them much too mellow.

By this point in the movie I was dozing off but fortunately things picked up and got easier to watch while more interesting at the same time.  My comment on how it was filmed it that it would make a great music video...jumping from angle to angle constantly, mimicking how frantic Valjean might feel when trying to escape Javert.  I get where the director was going, unfortunately it just didn't work for me.

I was surprised no one was singing along!  I could hear the woman two seats down from me humming and I would've been happy to stand on my seat, one foot on the armrest, imagining it's a barricade, waving my coat while belting out Do You Hear The People Sing....if I thought I wouldn't be the only one.

I never thought I could like another Valjean after seeing Colm Wilkinson, but I have thrown my theatrical heart behind Alfie Boe and will never be able to get through Bring Him Home sung by him without getting choked up.  Only two words can describe his performance:  Nailed. It.  But I'm sorry to say, Hugh Jackman is an awesome Wolverine, but left me wanting more when I saw him as Valjean.

All in all it wasn't bad, is visually stunning, the costumes, sets, and make up are phenomenal and are worth every penny that went into it.  But, be prepared for it to be very gritty, rough and no where near as pretty as it is when performed on the boards.  I was missing an intermission and applause so I look forward to watching it at home where I can join in, am not trapped in my seat for more than 3 hours, can use my couch as a barricade, sing as loud as I please, and visit the ladies' room anytime I like.

Have a fabulous day!


The Mrs. said...

I really liked it but it was hard to get used to!!!!

LR @ Magnificent or Egregious said...

My niece and sister-in-law went yesterday, they loved it but my niece felt Russell Crowe was miscast. Guess I will have to see it for myself! Thanks for your take.

I still love the 1998 movie version!

LPC said...

Thank you for this! I am hoping to go to the movie with my kids. Maybe I should bring Dramamine for seasickness:).

Shelley said...

Thanks for the review. I was only peripherally aware of this new release (I am so sheltered from the media, it's amazing I know anything at all). It sounded quite good but reading here, I'll probably wait for the video. We're still considering The Hobbit (which would be Bill's 5th movie theatre attendance in 16 years). We'll probably dither long enough that it won't be showing any more...

I was given W.E. for Christmas and watched it yesterday. I expected to hate it, but love the clothes. I did think the clothes lovely, but I actually quite liked the film, even the modern story line. Have you seen it?