Thursday, January 3, 2013

Les Miserables The Film

Les Mis has been epic since Hugo wrote and printed it. The length alone grants it such a label. I've read both the bridged and unabridged books, seen it on Broadway, own three cast versions and have the Dreamcast dvd. While, I wouldn't call myself an expert on it in any way, I feel safe in saying that I have a good grip on the story/show.

There are no weak links in this film. None. If you find one, let me know and we'll discuss it. I'm so grateful that Cameron MacIntosh had his hands all over this film as he produced the stage musical and this adaptation doesn't disappoint in any way. And let's face it, when you are making this musical into a film, there were so many things that could've gone wrong.


I've been a big fan of Hugh Jackman's singing voice since I saw the dvd of the stage version of Oklahoma shot in West End London in 1999. You can probably find it at your local library. That's where I found mine. It's the only version of Oklahoma that I like. If you ever want a masterclass in acting in musical theater, Jackman's performance in Les Mis is THE one to watch.

And Anne Hathaway isn't far behind. I've also been a big fan of her since Princess Diaries and The Other Side of Heaven. Her singing voice was no surprise to me. Recall her Oscar songs with Mr. Jackman as well as some of her early movie roles and you won't be surprised either. Novel question, in the book, don't they pull out her two front upper teeth?

Russel Crowe as Javert? I was skeptical too until I caught a little snippet online that said he did musicals early in his acting career and while it may not go down in the history of Les Mis as the best musical voice ever, it's still suited to the part. I still have issues with his suicide at the end. As a reader, it still doesn't make sense to me with the way Hugo paints him but that's an author issue, not a film one.

Amanda Seyfried. We know from Mamma Mia she can sing but I wondered if she could hit all the notes required for the role of Cosette. If done in the written key, that meant hitting 2 high C's piano (soft)  which is tough even at times for a trained singer. No worries. She had no problems. No idea which songs may have had their keys changed to better suit voices for the film as I don't have perfect pitch, but even if it wasn't high C it was till pretty close. And for once I actually noticed that Cosette had a spine, so thank you for that. The only tiny thing I noticed with her is she has a very fast vibrato, which I'm not a fan of, but it only comes out a few times and as vibrato is something you're mostly born with and can only minorly control, I'll let it go.
New to me Eddie Redmayne: you have to love Marius' voice to love him and boy does this guy have a perfect Marius voice. I mean he can sing. The only thing that bugged me was his quivering jaw at times. Can't decided if that is improper singing technique or emotional intesity coming through, but just sit back and enjoy. He's been at this acting/singing thing for a while, but this will make him public in a big way.

Helena Bonham Carter & Sacha Baron Cohen are the perfect Thenardiers. They do it to a T! No idea if he could sing, but no problems there. The thing that made me giggle was a bit of an interview I caught online by Carter where she said she could just barely hold a tune, which is just so untrue as we know from her performance in Corpse Bride and Sweeney Todd. This pair are wonderfully immoral, although I thought the Santa bit was unnecessary.

Samantha Barks: All IMDB tells me is that she beat out Taylor Swift to play Eponine for this and much as I like Ms. Swift, I'd say this was a good call. I saw online somewhere else that she performed this role on Broadway (although she is a Brit so it may have been West End) and that she does the role well in film isn't a surprise.

Aaron Tveit: Enjolras is his first film role from what I can tell, but his theater resume is certainly up to snuff and I hope we'll see more of him. Liked his voice just as much as Marius

The rest: Like I said there are no weak links. The sets, costumes, etc. just marvelous.

Oh, the new song is wonderful. I'll call it Suddenly. No idea what the real title is. I thought when they announced an Oscar nomination for a new song in Les Mis it was going to be during the end credits like Phantom did, but no, I was dead wrong. It's smack in the middle of the film and is a solo for Val Jean (Jackman). Blessedly they had the original lyricist and composer write it and it fits in perfectly. I wonder if they'll retro it into future stage productions. I vote yes! Oh, you'll also notice that snippets of songs are skipped here and there or even missing entirely (like Gavroche's Little People song). But I'm good with that. With everything else they included (like the elephant) and considering it's getting close to Hobbit length I'm willing to let a few little bits of song slide.

Go. See. Enjoy. Cry. (You'll need tissues even if you've seen the production before.)

Most of all be thankful you didn't live in France in the 1800's!!!

What did you think?


  1. Completely LOVED it--even though I am NOT a fan of the French Revolution time period. Except for fashion--that part I like. Anyhoo--there was a scene of Hathaway's that I had to close my eyes and plug my ears, but that's me.
    I agree with you about Javert's character. Hmmm--wonder if Hugo knew someone so stiff and unyielding.
    The only other thing I caught was that in the film they gave Hathaway a bit of gum pulp on the side so you can 'see' where they have pulled out teeth. Kinda gross. But lends well to the whole thing.
    Also--and this is a observation on the musical in general--if they are dying do they really have that much energy to sing?

  2. I can't wait to see this! I'm going tomorrow. With plenty of tissues in hand.

  3. I thought it was beautiful. There were moments when I did not enjoy the quality of the singing, but the acting was so intense that I could overlook the notes. Russell Crowe was great! My favorite moments were with Eponine. She made the movie for me.

  4. The movie was well done. Costumes, singing, set, and character casting.
    I have to confess: I did not cry. There are parts that are moving (Loved Empty Chairs, Empty Tables) and I heard people around me sniffling throughout.
    Also, this is a movie my twelve year old daughter wish she hadn't seen. The two sexual scenes made the movie experience less for her, even though I had been warned and was able to warn her.

  5. I loved it.....EXCEPT....
    I took my four sons and wished they hadn't seen certain things, particarly the prostitution scene with Anne Hathaway. Check out my review at:

  6. I loved the movie version. I don't have as much to speak knowledgeably about as you do... but here are my 'two bits.' I loved the makeup. I've never sat close to the stage in a theatre, so I don't know how much attention they paid to the small details... but I was impressed with how dirty and depressed they made France look. "Look Down" took on deeper meaning. During the close ups of the women actors I kept thinking, "It takes courage for a woman critized for being ten pounds too heavy to let themselves look so dirty and plain in this movie. Especially their teeth. (Which were too straight, likely... and if you looked toward the back of their mouths, you could tell the coloring didn't make it all the way back or rubbed off.) (which you could see because the director loved to have these incredible close up shots while they were singing.) I didn't even recognize that Hugh Jackman was one of the leads. (I hadn't done any homework or watched previews before going to see the film.)

    I thought the Rawness of "I Dreamed a Dream" was more than powerful. I think it is probably a fairer representation of what a women going through a similiar situation likely felt.

    I lost track of how many times I cried. I'd like to see it again, but take a box of tissues with me when I go.

    I didn't love Helena Bonham Carter or Sacha Cohen. I think they played the characters as vulgar and unloveable, which they probably should be.. but I just didn't feel like they pulled their weight as far as singing goes. I felt more like they were on the verge of talking for all of their songs, instead of singing. I love Ms. Carter in her other gigs, and as a actress... I just didn't love her in this role.

    I really liked the portrayal of Eponine. She is seriously my favorite character in the musical. I like how she was portrayed as more conflicted than I've seen elsewhere. I think her voice was fabulous. I also liked the scene of her disguising herself to join the barricade. I thought it was probably authentic for what someone would have to do,.

    The sewer scenes were surreal. Valjean was unrecognizable.

    Thanks for your review.

  7. Wonderful review, Lisa! I.LOVED.IT. Favorite parts: I Dreamed a Dream and Eponine. Heart. Wrenching.

  8. I hasn5 made it to my little theater and I haven't made it out of town to one that's showing it yet, but I definitely want to see it on the big screen--and now I've seen your review, I want it even more. Dang it.

  9. Great review, Lisa, with such technical music comments as well as acting. You must be a musician as well as a writer. Can't wait to see it.