Film Review: “Les Misérables”

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Les Misérables, 2012

dir. Tom Hooper

★★★☆☆

The Miserable, indeed.

Now, before I begin, I should say that musicals are not really my thing. I’ve seen enough to know that I much prefer regular, spoken dialogue, but I’ll try not to be biased because of that.

First of all, cinematography. The whole thing looked absolutely stunning. The visuals were incredible. I particularly liked what they did with the barricades, with all the doors and furniture. And I thought that using those two coffins in the front of the barricade was a clever foreshadowing.

Foreshadowing? Yes. Newsflash, everybody dies. Well, not everybody, but most of the cast dies and it’s incredibly sad. However, I must say that I thought the way the revolutionaries died was honourable and brave, so kudos for that.

And Fantine? She blew my mind. I almost cried – and I never cry – during I Dreamed a Dream. Honestly, they should just hand Anne Hathaway the Oscar now and spare us the wait. It was so heartfelt and hurt and you could see that she was in pain. I absolutely loved it!

But I also have to give a standing ovation to Hugh Jackman and his Jean Valjean. His solos were all unbelievable. I mean, I knew the could sing – we all remember his opening number at the Academy Awards a few years ago, right? – but this was on a different level of oh-my-God! His eyes were just the death of me. He looked so old and damaged, and yet when he first looked at Cosette you could see his whole life changing. Through his eyes! His performance was incredibly moving, and again, I think they should just hand him all of the awards.

However, and I feel horrible to have to point that out, I do think they should have given Russell Crowe less solos. I know it’s the character, and he has all those songs and that story, but there was just something off about his performance. I don’t know what it was, it might have been my irrational universal annoyance at everything that he does, but I just didn’t care for Javert – and I thought that all his singing on ledges and rooftops was sort of an obvious indicator that he was going to jump to his death eventually.

A performance that I thought fell short because of the music was probably Samantha Barks’. From what I know, she also plays Eponine in the stage version. Don’t get me wrong, her voice is incredible, I was impressed and a little jealous, I must say. But I think the character was a bit ruined by all the music she had to sing. All of her songs were about Marius or had something to do with Marius, it was like her whole person revolved around him, and I could not for the life of me sympathise with her at the end. It was like there was too little time for her to develop as a character and so I couldn’t feel anything when she died.

And, by the way, that bloody song she sang when she died was a bit annoying as well. Why? Because of Marius. Where the hell did all those loving feelings he had towards her come from? He spent most of their time together ignoring her or singing about Cosette. But this isn’t the movie’s fault, it’s just the musical in general. Again, I’m not a musical person, so you can just ignore that last bit.

But Eddie Redmayne was amazing. I loved him in My Week with Marilyn, and I was pleasantly surprised with his singing voice. It’s very powerful. And he has great chemistry with Amanda Seyfried, who is also a great singer, but we all knew that from Mamma Mia!, I suppose.

In conclusion, I’d say that this was an incredible movie. I was impressed at the visuals and at how Tom Hooper managed the whole singing-live thing he chose to do. The music was impeccably done – the instrumental parts – and I am wondering where I should go to buy the soundtrack album.

Anyway, I highly recommend this. Even if musicals aren’t your thing – mind you, it’s quite long – it’s great fun. But if you like the musical, I’m guessing, from the reactions of the lady sitting next to me who knew all the lyrics and was crying rivers, that you won’t be disappointed.

review by Mariana Duarte

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