A Suburban City Girl in A Small Town

Moment by moment……

Les Miserables Review

on January 12, 2013

Last night, Shelby, Emilie and I went to see Les Miserables, the film. I had been excited for this ever since I heard the film was to be made. Years ago, I saw the stage performance a number of times. I cried each time, bought the music and loved all the characters equally. So last night, I went in with rather high expectations of the film.

I admit myself underwhelmed.

Don’t get me wrong – the film was beautiful, the music magnificent and the set design amazing. Hugh Jackman played a marvelous, redemptive and thoughtful Jean Valjean. Anne Hathaway blew me away. She was wonderful as Fantine. I loved how she really showed Fantine’s downward spiral from a woman with a bit of pride trying to provide for her child to a desperate, lonely woman shamefully prostituting herself in order to survive. Amanda Seyfried shocked me with her range and had perfect chemistry with Eddie Redmayne, who I could listen to for hours. It was wonderful to see Colm Wilkinson as the Bishop. I had the pleasure of seeing him on stage as Jean Valjean and he moved me then. He hasn’t lost his magic and translated to film most excellently. Another lovely surprise was young Daniel Huttlestone as Gavroche. He captured the very passion of a young boy swept up into the revolution by the men he looked up to. Very good casting indeed.

However, a few minor casting flaws and one major one: Helena Bonham Carter, I felt, did not quite capture the ridiculousness of Madame Thenardier. And Sasha Cohen I have no use for so he, in my opinion, did not quite fit the bill of Thenardier. The role of Eponine was well-played by new-to-film Samantha Barks but she missed the passion of Eponine. She only caught the loneliness which she played on quite well. Mediocre casting here.

Russell Crowe has never been a favorite actor of mine. Although he starred in two of my favorite films, Master and Commander and A Beautiful Mind, when I heard he was playing Javier, I admit I cringed. Nevertheless, I watched him with an open mind – and was summarily disappointed. The role of Javier is the second most complicated and conflicted character in the whole story, the first being Valjean. Yet while Hugh Jackman handles this with ease, Russell Crowe stumbles and falters. And I really was not impressed with his singing (although he wasn’t nearly as bad as Pierce Brosnan in Mamma Mia). Watching Crowe battle through this was painful indeed, and I felt I was watching an actor who was concentrating more on the singing than the character himself. He failed to melt into the role of Javier and as that is a powerful role in this film, that was a huge failing in my book. Poor casting, in my opinion.

The only other complaint I have is the close-up shots whenever anyone was singing. Had this been a made-for-TV film, that would not have been bothersome but on the big screen, it was unnecessary and took away from the performance of the actors. I really did not need to see them struggling to sing which is all those shots highlighted. I’m shocked at Tom Hooper for making such a huge faux pas in such an important film, especially when the overall cinematography was quite stunning.

On the whole, the film was enjoyable and I cried like baby at all the right times. But if I had to grade this film, and perhaps I’m just still too spoiled by having seen it done so magnificently on stage, I’d give it a B-.

 

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