Welcome back to the Geekdom, I’ll be your Guide. Now I’m sure I know what you’re thinking. Clearly being a guy instantly means I hate musicals. Well you would be wrong; I was raised on watching The Sound of Music, and as such there are very few musicals I don’t like. I was actually quite excited to see this film as I have heard that Les Misérables is one of the highest praised musicals. So did this film live up to my expectations? Let’s review Les Misérables.
One of the most advertised aspects of this film was that their songs were recorded live without pre-scripted recordings to work off of. This technique allowed the actors to perform the songs to their choosing in order to better coincide with their acting. I think this technique worked well, but at many instances in the film, I felt that some of the songs suffered from light speaking instead of actual singing. Russell Crowe in particular was the flattest singer in the bunch. He did perform one or two really beautiful songs, but he mostly just bellowed out his lyrics in the flattest way possible.
The story is split into 3 different sections. The third is considered the most important part because most of the biggest plot elements occur here. Unfortunately, there was just something about this section that I didn’t like. I personally believe it was the make-up. The make-up department did an amazing job at making everyone in the first two parts look absolutely starved and dirty, but the third part feels entirely different. All the young actors look far too clean and seem to have a fine layer of make-up applied to them. This aspect didn’t irk my editor, but it’s something that kept bothering me.
Now this next part contains major spoilers to the story, if you don’t care than keep reading, but if you do care, just skip down to The Positive segment.
We good? Okay
Javert’s Suicide nearly ruined the entire film for me. That’s not to say that the action of the character killing himself was so terrible that it made me hate the film, nor does it mean that I hated the song with the same name, it is a very beautiful song and I loved it. It was his fall from the bridge going into the river. Whoever decided to add that horrifically cartoonish thud when he hit the rocks is one of the biggest idiots in the world. That noise ruins that entire moment. This is Javert’s big defining moment where we get the clearest look at his character, and it’s such a moving song to be ruined by such a ridiculous thud was moronic. I literally burst out laughing after hearing that noise, my editor slammed her hand upon my mouth to stop me from disrupting the other audience members. If it weren’t for the following song ‘Empty Chairs at Empty Tables’ bringing me back into the feel of the film, I fear the entire movie might have been ruined for me by that one sound.
Now you heard me praise the make-up department before, and I want to again. The make-up in the first two segments was amazing and it really sold me on the story. Everyone in the picture truly looks miserable as if they are truly suffering from famine and disease. I really wish that this quality make-up had continued on to the third part of the film because it was a really great tone setter for the feel of the movie.
Significant praise should be given to a number of the actors in this film. Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway were significant highlights of the film as the emotion they displayed onscreen was brilliant with every set piece. I have researched that the actors would dehydrate themselves on set in order to appear even more miserable on screen. While I feel that actors sometimes go too far with their performances, it really showed that they gave it their all with Les Misérables and were really dedicated to giving a realistic adaptation.
I would say that I have enjoyed musicals before, but I would never site them as being among my top favorite films. My editor made me watch the 1998 adaption of the film starring Liam Neeson, so that I would at least know the plot of the story before I went to go see the musical. I had never heard any of the music before going in to watch this movie and I have to say, it has made me a fan.
This movie actually made me go out and buy the greatest excerpts CD and then eventually the deluxe 2 disc CD collection that has all the songs from the film. I have a very odd taste in music, and it was only recently that I discovered how much I actually like music (it’s a whole story that I won’t get into) but for me to go out of my way to buy these CDs and still being singing these songs months after seeing this film, is an incredibly rare thing for me to do. I loved this musical, and I truly hope that it has enlightened a number of other viewers to its brilliance. If you have never listened to Les Misérables, I beg you to, because it has become my favorite musical. If for nothing else, this film has succeeded in its goal of attracting new viewers to the source material, something I think all adaptations should strive for.
I honestly don’t care what diehard fans have to say about this movie in comparison to the theater performances, this was an incredibly beautiful movie with stunning performances and wonderful music. I hope I gain the opportunity in the future to see this performance live in the theater, perhaps it will be just one day more. 4.3 out of 5.