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Les Misérables: At the end of the day it’s about taking chances

 

 
Overview
 

Genre: , ,
 
Starring: , , , , ,
 
Directed By:
 
Studio: , ,
 
MPAA Rating:
 
Release Date: December 25, 2012
 
Length: 157 minutes
 
Directing
7.0


 
Plot
7.0


 
Acting
6.0


 
Cinematography
8.0


 
Total Score
7.0
7/ 10


 

Whoa


It's an epic tale with songs you'll be humming for days and weeks to come.

No


Just "okay" singing is a lot to ask devoted fans or Les Misérables newbies to commit to for nearly 3 hours.


Bottom Line

We read Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables in French class, saw the musical stage adaptation three times and know most of the words to the non-stop sung dialogue, so we’re no strangers to the story of ex-convict Jean Valjean. Imprisoned for 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread, Valjean reinvents himself as a benevolent model […]

3
Posted December 26, 2012 by

 
Full Review
 
 

We read Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables in French class, saw the musical stage adaptation three times and know most of the words to the non-stop sung dialogue, so we’re no strangers to the story of ex-convict Jean Valjean. Imprisoned for 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread, Valjean reinvents himself as a benevolent model citizen and successful factory owner. But, because he broke parole to create his new, God-fearing persona, he is constantly under the threat of being re-captured by the law-abiding, obsessive Inspector Javert. Discovery is a risk Valjean is willing to take, largely because he is devoted to raising Fantine, the angelic offspring of a former factory-worker he inadvertently wronged and owes a debt.

Then, Fantine falls for an idealistic student rebel during the Paris uprising and the tale turns into a love story filled with idealism, heroism and a few broken hearts.

In the film version, director Tom Hooper had the actors sing every line as it was acted . . . an admirable effort to capitalize on the performers’ abilities to deliver an intimate moment rather than a larger-than-life “stage” scene.  In the end, however, with the possible exception of Anne Hathaway’s Fantine, his tight shots of big-name stars delivering their lines to their limited singing abilities are not nearly as poignant as the real singers–Eponine (Samantha Barks), Enjolras (Aaron Tveit), Gavroche (Daniel Huttlestone) and the Bishop (Colm Wilkinson)–giving the songs their passionate due. It’s the difference between an actor who can sing pretty well and a real singer who can also act.

A new and totally unnecessary song (“Suddenly”) was added while other faves were truncated, but that might be splitting hairs. Here’s the deal . . . we appreciate the risks taken to make this movie. From the hedonistic Jack Knife in Man with the Iron Fists to the black-and-white lawman in Les Misérables, Russell Crowe has been taking a lot of admirable (though not completely successful) chances with his career. Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway spend most of a major motion picture looking decidedly unglamourous. And from Hugo to the upcoming Freddie Mercury biopic, Sacha Baron Cohen has been making efforts to turn from caricature to respected indie actor. And, with a tried-and-tested story behind them, they managed to keep our attention and even tear us up at times. It’s all admirable. But, if Hooper was going to stick with the epic tale as a big budget epic musical (which may have been the flaw in this all from the get-go), he would have benefited from a full cast of truly strong singers.


Sam

 
Sam is live-music -loving vegetarian communications professional with an entertainment, travel and tourism background. A restless soul, Sam believes in getting out there and doing things because you only go around once but knows she could benefit from a little more sleep. Give her a reason to see a movie, catch a concert or explore a new destination at sam@whopperjaw.net.


3 Comments


  1.  
    Frank

    I thought Hugh Jackman was great, especially considering the size of the shoes he had to fill.




    •  
      whopperjaw

      I can see that. But there was some just passable singing and some truly awkward phrasing. I get what they were trying to do but some of those songs are so powerful when delivered by an incredible singer. Jackman’s a good singer (certainly better than Amanda Seyfried whose pitch was so high I felt like she was calling dogs most of the time) and a passionate actor, but it still lacked something for me.




  2.  
    Tammy

    Fantine falls for no one – she is dead by the time her daughter Cosette falls for the isealistic student rebel.

    I loved the film, having seen the play in London, on Broadway and in several tours – it is decidedly fresh and worthwhile. Russell Crowe was a total miss, but I loved the overall film, with Ann Hathaeway running away with it.





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