4 June 2013

Les Misérables

Les Misérables 2012
  • Director: Tom Hooper
  • Based on book: by Victor Hugo
  • Cast: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter, Eddie Redmayne, Aaron Tveit, Samantha Barks, Daniel Huttlestone
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor/actress in:
    • Hugh Jackman  X-Men, Australia, The Fountain, Kate and Leopold
    • Russell Crowe  Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind, Robin Hood, A Good Year
    • Anne Hathaway – Rachel Getting Married, Alice in Wonderland, Brokeback Mountain, Ella Enchanted
    • Amanda Seyfried – Mamma Mia
    • Sacha Baron Cohen – Sweeny Todd
    • Helena Bonham Carter - Harry Potter, Sweeney Todd, The King’s Speech, Alice in Wonderland, Frankenstein, Keep the Aspidistra Flying, Howards End
    • Eddie Redmayne – Elizabeth the Golden Age
  • Why? I like musicals, the book and the other versions.
  • Seen: March 31, 2013 with H, ÖB and B-IS.

Very impressive! What scenography! What undreamed of power in the voices of Hathaway and Crowe! Three out of the four of us sniffled all the way through the last hour or so.
So yes, I liked this movie.  Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway are magnificent. It is a delight, as always, to see and hear Helena Bonham-Carter. No one can do nasty like she can and the songs she and Cohen do are funny.  Samantha Barks as Éponine doing the rain song is beautiful and heartbreaking. The opening scene with the convicts pulling the ship, the mountain views, the panorama of Paris from the roof tops, the final scene of the ghosts of the revolutions and the thousands to come rising up on the barricades – vive la révolution!
Only, sadly, that’s not what they were singing. They were singing about heaven and God. Oh why did they have to ruin it like that? Sure, people tended to still be believers back then but much of the French Revolution(s) – this one was in 1832 but there was another one coming right around the corner in 1848 – was/were about liberation from the tyranny of the church along with the fight against class inequality and poverty. So this powerful, stirring final scene loses much of the meaning that the film has built up.
There are other problems. Music has to be heard several times and strangely I have never heard anything at all from this musical. This will only get better, of course, when I watch the movie again (and I will) but I like musicals with specific songs – not opera where everything is sung, much of it just la-la-la between the real songs. Our friends, B-I and Ö, who themselves have worked with musicals, say that in the stage productions there’s talking, not singing, between the songs. The movie would have been better if this choice had been made.
Another problem is that Hugh Jackman’s songs are boring and at times bordering on the pathetic (not his fault probably). It was, however, fun to see him in his non-Wolverine, non-Australia role.
A third problem – Amanda Seyfried.  Sorry, I’ve never seen her in a role I like. Her voice is too shrill, her sweetness is too sweet, her in-loveness is too wimpy. So it was in Mamma Mia, so it is here.
Some of this criticism will disappear when I’ve seen it a few times.  Much of it will not.
The good stuff is very good indeed and gets 10 * of 10. But the bad stuff drags it down. Altogether?

3* of 5.

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