First, a sidebar. For those of you who do not appreciate musical theater, there is a wonderful film of Les Mis that does not have singing. It stars Liam Neeson (Jean Valjean), Uma Therman (Fantine), Clare Danes (Cosette), Geoffery Rush (Javert), and Hans Matheson (Marius). It is a wonderful movie. It's only downfall, in my opininon, is that it does not include Eponine or Gavroche, who are two of my favorite characters. But watch it.
Also, a caveat. I have love, love, loved this story since high school. I am a tiny smidgey bit obsessed with the French Revolution. I have a magnet on my refrigerator that I got at the Louvre, a print of Delacroix's "Liberty Leading the People". I loved this novel so much that I read the unabridged version, which, if you know anything about Victor Hugo, you know takes some dedication.
What I am saying is that I was predisposed to love the latest film version. And I'm not even going to keep you in suspense. I loved the musical movie. It was wonderful. It included Eponine and Gavroche.
|Amanda Seyfried as Cosette|
I think of Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe as a pair in this movie. They have some of the most challenging singing, because out of all the characters, the writers of this musical gave them the most musical (that is, sung) dialogue. And the songs for Jean Valjean have a huge range of notes. There have been a lot of criticisms about their singing in this movie, and yes, there were some cringe-worthy notes. But I forgave them, because on the whole, Jackman and Crowe made Valjean and Javert real, emotional people that I sympathized with. And that music is freaking hard. And they didn't pre-record the songs. Which means they were acting and singing at the same time. This is something that is a lot harder than it sounds. Hugh Jackman had to cry during a lot of the songs, which I imagine made it incredibly difficult to maintain good tone.
Which brings me to the one thing I really did not like about the movie. The director, or cinematographer, or whoever is responsible for those decisions, decided that there were so many attractive people in this movie that we should really just see their faces. There were so many closeups of characters' faces, especially during the songs. It was like we (the audience) had to look everyone straight in the eye while they sang. It was really kind of annoying, because it seemed to me that there would have been more opportunities to give us more visually stimulating things to look at, like sets, and costumes, or even movement, during the songs.
|Anne Hathaway as Fantine|
|Eddie Redmayne as Marius|
|Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen|
Bottom line: The film was not without its flaws. But in my opinion, the good definitely outweighs the bad. It was chock full of emotion, passion, and tragedy. Remember to bring tissues. Whether you already know this story and musical or not, this movie is definitely worth watching. Please go see it as soon as possible. And if you are completely unfamiliar with Les Miserables, please go read the book also. Or at least the summary on Wikipedia.