Monday, December 31, 2012

Les Misérables

I finally decided that spending 2 hours (fruitlessly) working on my CT project is not how I want to be spending the second last day of 2012. I'm about to scurry off to read Great Expectations (which is ingeniously funny), but first... the LES MIS review!

So, on Christmas Day I watched Les Misérables, expecting to turn into a misérable (am I aware that this is the most overused pun regarding this musical? Yes, please forgive...) wreck in the cinema, and in retrospect, I was not actually a puddle of sobs, yet there were several specific scenes that rendered me a human hosepipe. Essentially, this post is going to be a review, but also an allow-me-to-elaborate-on-the-scenes-where-I-wept opportunity.

Firstly, the team (+Colm Wilkinson!!) as assembled for this movie is incredible (go look up the 'Best Ensemble' awards the film has already garnered) Tom Hooper, still fresh from the accolades of The King's Speech, managed to pull this off majestically - and by 'this' I mean directing a movie-musical where the singing is done live. The live singing is - for me - the most appealing factor of the film. It brings the realness of the story to a more intimate and emotional level that mere lip-syncing would have never achieved. Critics everywhere seem to be whining about Hooper's direction (shooting too close to the mouths of the actors), but seriously, leave the man alone, he is a legend.

Back to the cast - the men of this movie were fantastic - especially the revolutionaries. I was super impressed (and enchanted) by Eddie Redmayne, who was such a spot-on Marius, and delivered a heart-wrenching rendition of the already-poignant Empty Chairs and Empty Tables. Vocally, he is still inferior to Michael Ball, but performance-wise, I think Redmayne triumphed (same with Lea Salonga and Samantha Barks and essentially everyone in the movie).

The thing is, the music is already so legendary, no matter how awful any movie rendition is, the power of the music will still be present (the delivery still has to be acceptable to some extent, though).

Having said this, Russel Crowe was not exactly the dream-Javert (although certainly looks it), and his usually outstanding acting was a tad diminished by his singing in the film. Nevertheless, he mastered this one-line delivery - "one more step and you die" - that blew me away totally. His gravelly tones swallowed the moment, and made it whole. Moreover, when Javert pinned his badge on Gavroche (Gavroche was brilliant in all ways) - THAT was when I turned into the human hosepipe. Right before that scene was Enjolras and Grantaire's death, which was shot SO movingly, and after it, Empty Chairs and Empty Tables (that 'sacrifice' bit... cry cry cry) ... so those 20ish minutes of the film were stunning and tear-inducing.

The cinematography was  beautiful, whereas it's the city-view of France at dawn we are treated to at the end, or the kids running after Gavroche (so nostalgic), or the red/white/blue colours of the French flags mounted above the barricades...

Back to the cast: Bellatrix and Borat - I mean, Le Thénardiers were SUCH a breath of fresh air and unbelievably brilliant and humorous. Seyfried was an OK Cosette (to be fair, Cosette isn't that interesting, but it would be nice to see an actress really shape her character). Her best scenes were complimented by the wonderful Marius (although their rushed love-at-first-sight is a tad hard to believe). However, hats off to Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway for doing a marvelous job in this movie. Hathaway's rendition of I Dreamed a Dream is at the moment probably the most-discussed, but I think Valjean deserves ENORMOUS praise... Jackman fought for the role, and he owned it (he works so hard, he really deserves this).

Weeping at a film says a lot about one's emotional resilience, but also one's ability to feel, as a human being, and ... this film should make you cry.

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