LES MISERABLES (PG-13)


GRAND, POWERFUL AND WELL...LONG


Following a sumptuous Christmas dinner I waddled into the car and headed off to see the much acclaimed Les Miserables. I was excited to see this all star cast of proven cinematic talent display yet another aspect of their already polished resumes.

Les Mis was a grand production directed by Tom Hooper of "The King's Speech" and gloriously retold with the multi-talented Hugh Jackman at the helm in the lead role of Jean Valjean. What followed was almost three hours of non-stop singing with barely a spoken word thrown in. The actors paraded their vocal chops to the dramatic backdrop of 19th Century post-revolutionary France. Jackman was superb as the parole violating convict, turned good citizen, turned rescuer of the suffering and downtrodden prostitute, Fantine (Ann Hathaway) and her little girl, Cossette (Isabelle Allen). His dramatic grasp of Valjean's imprisonment torment to drastic transformation was well executed. Hathaway’s inspired, career trajectory role culminated in the musical's signature song "I Dreamed a Dream" that swept us away on her personal journey of despair and deadened hopes. Hathaway was luminous and I was truly sorry when her time on screen ended.

The pick-pocketing “Fagan-like” inn keeper and wife were played by Sasha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter which supplied whimsical comic relief. Russell Crowe, as the resolute Javert appeared to be struggling his way through songs that came across more painful than effective. (I couldn’t wrap my mind around Crowe singing in a film). The love affair between the hapless Marius (Eddie Redmayne) and lonesome now older Cossette (beautifully sung by Amanda Seyfried) did not quite adhere enough to make it believable. I have always enjoyed a good musical, but in spite of the credible level of the actor’s voices, I longed for any spoken word to break up the songs which sometimes became monotonous, and seemed unnecessary. The battle scenes became a welcome change only because no one was actually singing. In all fairness I have not seen the Broadway version, but believe any good production is capable of standing on its own merit. In true confession, after 90 minutes I was laboring through the remaining plethora of songs to the end. Judging by the public's expectations and opening day box office receipts, most die-hard Les Mis fans may disagree. But, I can't help thinking Hooper's production might have soared higher with a little less singing, some extra dialogue and about 30 fewer minutes.

Comments

  1. Well written and have to agree with your review! Thanks for the beautifullly descrptive adjectives! I love to read your writings...even if it is a simple movie blog!

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  2. Thanks for the review Carol. We watched the french version with Depardieu and it was very loooong too. I have not seen this one yet. The story is amazing, but I was concerned when I saw the cast. I am still looking forward to it, but not in a rush.

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