Sung to the tune of “At the End of the Day”:
At the end of the day, its a pretty good movie.
And that’s all you can ask for a Hollywood flick.
Yes, the singing was just ok,
But the acting was really compelling
All in all, I’m glad that I went to see Les Miz
This fan was quite happy
I love the stage production. I saw it for the first time at Robinson Auditorium when I was in 9th or 10th grade. I immediately fell in love with it. It made me laugh, it made me cry and it made me want to run away to New York to be on Broadway. I tabled the whole Broadway thing (probably since I couldn’t yet drive) and instead bought sheet music and learned as many of the songs as my little nerdy self could.
Since then, I’ve seen Les Miz another 4 or 5 times — in Little Rock, in Memphis and in London. Each time, I grew to love the story and the music more. More than 15 years since I first saw it, Les Miz is still my favorite musical, hands down.
So I admit to being a little apprehensive when I heard Hollywood was doing Les Miz. As the buzz about the project grew, I honestly wasn’t sure I wanted to see it. But then, I saw the first trailer they released. Anne Hathaway’s performance of “I Dreamed a Dream,” was the clip they showed. She hooked me — she sounded like Fantine should sound. From that point on, I knew I wanted to see the film.
My sweet hubbie gave me a coupon good for a night out — dinner and Les Miz. On Saturday, I was ready to collect. Huge thanks to Aunt Heidi (Margarita Mama) and Uncle Chris for watching our little spudlet while Matt and I went to the movies!
So here’s my take on the movie. It was quite good. No, it isn’t as good as the stage production, but I don’t think you can really expect it to be. It did manage to be faithful to the spirit of the stage production, while adjusting and adapting to a new medium.
The director, Tom Hooper, really needed to pull himself back from some of the odd camera angles. He was a little too enamored of the profile and close-up shots. But it was the tilted shots were the ones that annoyed me the most. They were distracting. A great movie allows me to get completely lost in the story — Hooper’s camera angles at times would remind me I was watching a film, thus pulling me out of the story.
However, I’m not completely dissing Hooper. He did several things right. First off, his big crowd shots were beautiful. He was able to capture a large-scale scene that could never be achieved on stage. Also, his idea of having the actors sing on camera was gutsy and part of the reason the movie managed to stay true to the stage production.
Now, on to the cast. The cast was largely made of talented actors who also can sing. This was not a cast of professional singers — and you could tell. But they could act — and they turned in some fabulous performances.
First up, Hugh Jackman turned in a wonderfully tortured performance as Jean Valjean, a convict who broke parole and then turns himself into a respected businessman. While Jackman is a good singer, he does not possess the voice needed for Valjean. His “Bring Him Home” showed that while Jackman can sing, he can’t SING. He is no Colm Wilkinson, the original London and Broadway Valjean who put the bar so high for that role that no ordinary singer can reach it. BTW, Wilkinson was in the movie as the Bishop.
Russell Crowe had the same problem with Javert. He did an excellent job portraying the lawman who only sees the world in black and white. When forced to see shades of gray, Javert is broken — and Crowe nailed all aspects of that character. But the vocal requirements for Javert were beyond Crowe’s abilities. He simply couldn’t hit the notes with the power the songs require.
Of the top-billed Hollywood contingent, Anne Hathaway did the best job of combining vocal prowess with acting skills. Her “I Dreamed a Dream,” was haunting, just as the song should be, and with the exception of the 5-note climb during the crescendo, she hit every note perfectly. And her duet with Jackman on “Come to Me,” was definitely one of the movie’s waterworks moments.
Sasha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter were hilarious as Thenardier and Madame Thenardier. I would have liked to see more of them — it was a shame that “Beggars at the Feast,” was shortened and “Dog Eats Dog,” was cut entirely.
Samantha Barks, who has played Eponine in London, was pitch perfect. The only flaw in her performance was she didn’t show much expression on her face. However, her voice was incredibly expressive, making her unrequited love for Marius, played by Eddie Redmayne, quite believable. And Barks and Redmayne were beautiful in the heartbreaking “A Little Fall of Rain.” Speaking of Redmayne, he was one of the most pleasant surprises in Les Miz. He had the voice and acting ability needed to be a convincing Marius.
I felt a little bit sorry for Amanda Seyfried. She was cast as adult Cosette, my least favorite character in the musical. Cosette has always struck me as boring. Her happy life isn’t nearly as interesting as the life lived by Fantine and Eponine. Plus, Cosette is the first soprano part. Very few people in the world can make notes that high sound good — Seyfried included. Seyfried brought what depth she could to a very flat part. But seriously? Love at first sight? In the middle of a revolution? The Cosette/Marius love story has never struck me as very believable.
The last two people I want to specifically mention are Daniel Huttlestone, who plays the adorable street imp Gavroche, and Isabella Allen, who was Young Cosette. Both of them were adorable and quite the talented singers.
So can you tell I really liked the movie? If you enjoy musicals at all, go check Les Miserables out. If you don’t understand why people might be singing in the midst of tragedy, this one isn’t for you. Oh, and this isn’t one I’d take the kids too. With the violence and prostitution, this movie is too adult for the little ones.