The Miserables. That’s what the title means in English. It’s not “The Wonderful Endings” or “The Sweet Stories.” It’s The Miserables. I tell you this so you won’t be waiting the ENTIRE movie for things to go well. Most of the time they don’t.
Oh, and you probably already know that Les Miserables is a musical, but if you’re picturing Oklahoma or The Sound of Music then you might be disappointed. This baby’s ALL singing with only about three lines worth of dialogue for the whole two hours and thirty-seven minutes.
I’m surrounded by people who absolutely love this musical, so for me to share my true feelings takes courage…maybe not the Jean Valjean courage of confessing his true identity, and definitely not the courage of Marius, standing beside his fellow rebels and being way outnumbered, but still, it takes at least a morsel of courage to speak against such a beloved musical.
Let me just say, this wasn’t my favorite movie…not even my favorite musical, but I can appreciate the genius of actually filming the actors singing live and recording it instead of doing that lip sync thing. Brilliant. Of course, I have been wondering how no one ever thought to make a movie musical like this before. Anyway, as far as movies that are musicals go, Les Miserables is the best of its kind. (I still really like The Sound of Music, though.)
Hugh Jackman does a great job in the lead as Jean Valjean. However, I would rather see him as Wolverine…if only he’d had those claw things, then maybe that uptight Javert would’ve left him alone!
Russell Crowe was okay as Javert. But his very last scene (I don’t want to give anything away) was in bad taste, if you ask me, and I found the fact that he kept popping up everywhere kind of annoying.
Eddie Redmayne and Samantha Barks have beautiful voices and excellent acting chops. It’s kind of strange how I’ve never seen them before. I heard somewhere that Barks beat Taylor Swift out for the part of Eponine. Kind of glad about that.
Just about every scene with Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter made me squirm and wish it would be over soon. I don’t even like writing about it. Horrible, horrible people. (The characters, NOT the actual actors. And yes, I realize that their uncanny ability to make me feel uber-uncomfortable is applaudable, I still wish they’d tone it down a bit.)
For the best turn on this silver screen stage, I give a “bravo” to Anne Hathaway for enduring the terrible hardships of Fantine and singing “I Dreamed a Dream” The song broke through my grumpy, musical wall. Of course, it would have been over-the-top incredible, if I hadn’t already seen her sing this song a bazillion (over 10, that is) times in the previews before EVERY feature film I’ve been to since June (not to mention the TV ads). Too much of good thing, guys.
The honest, courageous side of me wants to give this film a 3, but then I am an artist, and what do artists do but learn to appreciate things that are outside of themselves. Besides, my word for the year is “horizon”, so I’m gonna push my appreciation limits and give it a 5.5. I might actually go see it again, and I’ll definitely listen to the musical score while I clean the house! And yes, I know there are some wonderful messages on grace and forgiveness that can be extrapolated here, but it was very difficult for me to get to those messages amid all that blasted singing.