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Les Miserables

Les Mis

Directed by:  Tom Hooper

Written by: William Nicholson, Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schoneberg, Victor Hugo (novel)

Stars: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway and Amanda Seyfried

Reviewed by: Scott

I sat down to watch this film with my wife, who loves musicals and has never seen Les Mis.  I had seen the earlier version done with Liam Neeson, Geoffrey Rush and Uma Thurman which I remember enjoying but not being blown away by.  Well 30 minutes into the film my wife was annoyed and wanted to be somewhere else.  Needless to say she did not enjoy this film at all and was visibly angry that she had wasted precious amounts of sleep, having a newborn will often make you realize how important your time is and how important sleep is but I digress.

Les Miserables has been done over and over again through every medium; TV, theater, and countless movies, I also read it was made into a comic book once, that being said I certainly do not understand the reasoning behind making this movie.  What new are you going to bring to the table?  The answer to that question is really nothing.  New players but same old production.  Les Mis is more of an opera movie than it is a musical, in most musicals you have some standard dialogue and a lot more choreographed dancing scenes, Les Mis has very little of that.

For those of you , like my wife, who have no idea what the film is about I will fill you in briefly.  Les Mis is about freed prisoner Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) in 1815 France, who turns his life around but is in hiding due to breaking his parole.  Jean changes his name to avoid capture and becomes a wealthy factory owner but his past will soon catch up to him when Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe) soon crosses his path, Javert had been seeking Jean Valjean since he had broken his parole.  Valjean, feeling like he must save local prostitute Fantine (Anne Hathaway) puts his freedom at risk and Javert is back on the case.  Valjean goes into hiding again and raises Fantine’s child Cosette as his own as he promised to do while Fantine was on her death-bed.  Fast forward 10 years and Cosette is grown and falls for revolutionary Marius which poses a new problem for Valjean.  As you can imagine there is a lot going on and several story lines to follow but the main theme is the importance of love and compassion regardless of circumstances.

There are so many actors and actresses that play an important role the only way I know how to go about a summary of performances is by listing and explaining how I felt about them in the film.  First and foremost Hugh Jackman held his own but I must tell it was very difficult to not laugh in the beginning of the film, it was a little odd for me but that wore off as I got used to it.  Russell Crowe I never got used to and from what I have read most people think he did a good job, I could not take him seriously at all and was a lingering shadow throughout the whole film.  Anne Hathaway certainly sang well but her role was so small and a bit over dramatic, but out of all the actors and actresses her small part was better than most,  she certainly had the most emotional part of the film. Sacha Baren Cohen, who turned down Django Unchained for this part was not the most vocally talented of the group but I did enjoy his character Thenardier.  He and Helen Bonham Carter (Madame Thenardier) were at least entertaining and lightened the mood a bit, which was a necessary break from the miserable.  Eddie Redmayne (Marius) I did not connect with or enjoy, there was just something about the cut of his jib that did not sit well with me. He did a decent job with the singing but his acting is a bit behind.  The final actress I will discuss is Amanda Seyfried (Cosette), she was solid throughout and that has nothing to do with my being a fanboy of hers, maybe it does.

From the opening scene of Les Miserables it was battling for my attention and respect, the few scenes that actually felt right were few and far between.  I found myself trying not to laugh, to take it seriously and give it a shot.  At about the half way point of the film that feeling of discontent and uneasiness subsided and I was able to finish the movie, I even began to enjoy it.  That being said a movie should not take 2 hours to get my attention,  a movie like this demands your emotional connection so you can overlook Wolverine and Maximus settling their differences through song, a movie like this needs to grab you right away and Les Mis did the exact opposite.

I would be amiss if I did not mention set design and costumes which were incredibly well done and deserving of an Oscar nod for costume design, Les Miserables will certainly take down a few Oscars but not in the “big ” categories most likely costumes, make-up, and production design.  The fact that this film is nominated for best picture while a movie like Moonrise Kingdom is not just goes to show you how the Academy can be perceived as stodgy.  There is no way this film could or should win best picture, to me this film was mediocre at best and is taking up a spot of several other films worthy of an Oscar nomination. I give Les Miserables 1 and 1/2 guys.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Jaina February 18, 2013, 7:52 am

    I think your comment about Amanda Seyfried cements your fanboy status of hers ;)

    She was fine, but I thought Samantha Barks’ Eponine was a far more interesting character and she produced a fantastic performance.

    Shame you couldn’t really get into this film. Personally, fell for it hard.

    • scottydynamite February 18, 2013, 9:56 am

      Jaina thanks for the comment, did you know that Samantha Barks beat out Taylor Swift for that role, I thought that was an interesting tid bit.

  • Adam February 18, 2013, 9:40 am

    You are a brave man Scott Anderson.

    • scottydynamite February 18, 2013, 9:57 am

      One of us has to brave these types of films, I have a wife that is convincing when it comes to certain movies, hell I have seen most of the Twilight Saga against my will.

  • ckckred February 18, 2013, 12:38 pm

    Nice review. I agree. Tom Hooper’s direction was too overbearing and I don’t think this deserved a Best Picture nomination over films like The Master and Moonrise Kingdom.

  • nediunedited February 18, 2013, 1:57 pm

    Truth. This should NOT be in the film that pushed out Moonrise Kingdom. Well, welcome to the minority! :D I, too, did not fall under the spell of this film.

    First of all, I love the staged musical opera (you are correct) and am used to hearing the songs song by opera level singers–true baritones, sopranos, etc. And although the “acting” part of the songs was pretty good–I could never get past some of the weaker voice performances. (On my review I place some links to some of the stage performance for The Confrontation scene and it is an obvious difference). Russell Crowe was painful to watch–I cringed through most of his parts. And although Hathaway and Jackman are good in their “acting”–I never got the goosebumps I get when I hear the Les Mis original cast recording.

    And Hooper was killing me with the intense close-ups!! For a film set around the French Revolution, I felt like I was trapped on a sound stage. That approach limits the scope of the period. But, oh well…I can go on and on. Disappointing.

    It is nice to know I am not alone. Later!

    (Side note: Samantha Banks played the same role on the stage–which is why she is awesome! Maybe more roles should have been cast based on vocal ability?? Maybe? You think?)

    • scottydynamite February 18, 2013, 3:29 pm

      Thanks for the comment nediunedited, I have never seen it on stage and my wife said she would have liked it more on stage than the film. There were several holes in this production including the vocal work from most of the cast but especially Crowe.

  • Chris February 18, 2013, 2:59 pm

    Heh, well I enjoyed this quite a bit, though I can definitely agree that I’m not entirely sure that this works in the medium of film. Also, you ignored Samantha Barks! She was the best thing about this movie, IMO. Though don’t worry, everyone else ignored her as well, haha. :P

    Anyways, I liked it a hell of a lot more than you did, though I can see where you’re coming from with your critiques. Good review. :)

    • scottydynamite February 18, 2013, 3:33 pm

      Chris you are right about Samantha Barks, there are a few characters I left out of my review and she was one I should have mentioned, she was the most seasoned vocally but was overshadowed by the not so good. I felt like I was getting a bit long winded in my review. I also thought that Daniel Huttlestone was pretty good as Gavroche.

  • Colin Biggs February 18, 2013, 3:14 pm

    I can’t bring myself to say much about the film. Hooper’s use of close-ups is very distracting and that kept much *that* far away from caring.

    • scottydynamite February 18, 2013, 3:35 pm

      Colin thanks for the comment, Hooper took this production a bit far, when the story itself is tragic enough. Too much direction, too much star power and not enough of what matters.

  • Fogs February 18, 2013, 3:48 pm

    Yeah, I wasnt a big fan of this one either. Although, unlike you, I was interested in the beginning and then it wore me down by the end. The constant singing killed me. By the end I was like “Let me OUT!!!”

  • Nostra February 19, 2013, 3:14 am

    I saw it at an amazing cinema on a night I celebrated with my wife, so I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I did miss some normal dialogue.

    btw, I have a huge backlog on posts still to read. Did you guys already do your entry in the movie jail relay race?

  • wordschat February 19, 2013, 4:58 am

    Good points on why you didn’t like Scott. Seems to come down to if you’re a Mid fan before you’ll continue as one and vice versa. I’m a fan, like the movie a lot but didn’t like Russel Crowe’s performance was nothing to crow positive about.

    • scottydynamite February 19, 2013, 6:08 am

      Yeah I am not normally a fan of musicals of any kind unless they are great like Grease and Rocky Horror Picture Show. Crowe was certainly the most difficult to watch, I dont think it was his fault but just not the right role for him.

  • Joe February 19, 2013, 5:19 pm

    That’s too bad. I’m not a big fan of musicals either but I was actually considering checking this one out after watching an interview with Hugh Jackman who was raving about the new process they used in doing the musical scenes. Looks like I’ll be skipping this one at least until it’s on cable or it’s in The Bargain Bin:)

  • Thomas March 18, 2013, 9:03 pm

    apart from all the other flaws, it’s just way too long… maybe it needs to be long for a stage where people dress up and travel for hours to go see a show, and want to see their money’s worth for three hours. As a movie, that needs to be more compact, more dramatic (unless you have the material and the skills of Lawrence of Arabia, but who does?).
    “At the end of the day we are just a day older”? After seeing this film, I felt I had spent a week in the cinema…
    my notes: http://thomas4cinema.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/les-miserables-tom-hooper-2012/

    • scottydynamite March 19, 2013, 6:22 am

      On the stage I am sure this plays out better. I just don’t know why they keep remaking it, there is no need.

  • Chalbo April 22, 2013, 2:31 am

    I also agree with you that the love this film received was overblown and it was FAR too long. Overall, though, I found it quite enjoyable despite its failings. Nice site you have here, guys!

    • scottydynamite April 22, 2013, 4:15 am

      Thanks for stopping by Chalbo, it was a tough one for me to sit through, I think that had a lot to do with Crowe.

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