Monday, January 14, 2013

Les Mis movie adventures

Part A: thoughts on the movie Les Miserables.
I have never seen Les Mis performed on stage in any way, unless you count the time in 2009 when I watched a ghetto videorecording of the production my old high school put on in like 2003. My experience with (and love for) Les Mis comes entirely from listening to the songs on CD or mp3 or whatever - international cast version, thanks. So the reason I went to see Les Mis at the theater was so I could get the experience of actually seeing what was happening instead of just listening to it. And I loved it!

The best performances were Anne Hathaway (I KNOW. But OH MY GOSH her I Dreamed a Dream alone was worth the price of admission. I had people tell me beforehand that it was amazing and it still blew me away.), Marius, and Eponine. Marius surprised me - the actor who plays him is, well, an actor, and I've seen him in other things so I wasn't expecting much in the singing department. But he was great. I also thought Hugh Jackman was wonderful as Jean Valjean, especially in the first Who Am I song. Wow.

Now. Russell Crowe. Let's talk. Jeremy thought Crowe was so bad that he almost got up and walked out of the theater. I thought he was fine. I thought he did a good job as that character. Could they have cast someone stronger? Almost certainly. But I've made my peace with it.

What I have NOT made my peace with is why the movie cut out the single most beautiful harmony in all of creation (well, at least all of Les Mis) - at the very end when Fantine appears to Jean Valjean, Eponine is supposed to be there too and they sing a lovely harmony together. The movie cut that out and had the Bishop pick up some of it at the very end but it wasn't enough. Hmph.

Anyway, great movie. If you like the music, go see it.

Part B: thoughts on the experience of seeing Les Miserables.
When the movie started, there were quite a few Emiratis in attendance. Of course I knew it was possible they were legitimate fans of Les Mis, but I also know that some people want to see a movie at x time and they will buy a ticket for whatever movie that happens to be. So it wasn't surprising when after the first few minutes of Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman singing, some of the audience members got up and left. Because if I sat down to watch a movie starring those two and it turned out to be a singing-only movie, I might be a little surprised, too.

The movie was edited. There was one noticeably abrupt cut in the film during a certain scene and it sped right up to I Dreamed a Dream. I have to wonder what the editors' standards are - how do they decide what stays and what goes?

Of course, out of the whole theater, we ended up sitting next to the one person who thought it was a good idea to bring their 1-year-old to the movie. I had to try really hard not to let that bother me. The kid was babbling and squawking and it was equal parts cute and SHUT UP. They left halfway through.

The end.


Merkley Jiating said...

Best review I've seen. Who brings a one-year-old to a movie?!

Kristi said...

YES! I feel the exact same way about that harmony! I had to hum Eponine's part to myself during the movie just so I wouldn't cry from frustration. I think the fact that they left that part out as well as changing almost the entire Eponine story line really tainted the movie for me. I want to like it as much as everybody else, but I just can't bring myself to do it. Also, what was with changing the order of the songs?

Steven said...

I agree almost 100% with your review. I, however, can still not get over the casting of Anne Hathaway. She was good, but I still wish they had cast someone different... maybe they should have cast someone who was a singer who acts sometimes, rather than an actor who sings sometimes.

Maybe I'm just overly picky about singing voices, but I wish the movie soundtrack could live up to the complete symphonic recording, even though I knew that wouldn't happen. That said, I was okay with Russell Crowe for some reason. Yes he probably had the worst voice in the cast, but he made up for it somehow. I'm not sure why.

And yes, the harmony at the end. SO FRUSTRATING.

I really liked Samantha Barks as Eponine. All of Eponine's lines and harmonies should have been in the movie. Eponine wasn't in the movie enough. Marius was also surprisingly good. Cosette needed less vibrato. Loved the Thenardiers. The foreman who fired Fantine was good (what a weird character to like). I loved Hugh Jackman as Valjean but I wish he had been truer to the songs, with the great voice that he had.

I know a movie production of Les Miserables will never be perfect, and they can't put everything in that everyone wants, etc. But overall I think they did a pretty good job.

Bridget said...

Yeah, I forgot to mention the changing of the song order. I didn't feel like it affected the story overall, but it was kind of strange that they did that. When I saw how they were changing what Eponine did in the movie, I thought maybe, just maybe, SPOILER Gavroche wouldn't die. But then he did. Dang. END SPOILER.

Bridget said...

Yeah, I'm not interested in owning this movie soundtrack. Unlike the complete symphonic recording, this one seems like it would require watching the performances as well as listening to them. Which is fine, since it's a movie, I guess.

I agree with all the other stuff you said.

Teresa Jane said...

You should just copy and paste what I wrote in the family email, because I don't want to rewrite it right now! I will add this, though. I actually did like having "I Dreamed a Dream" after she stoops down to prostitution. It brings new light to some of the lyrics. I didn't realize that I liked that until the second time I saw it. I'm glad I'm not the only one that was ok with Russell Crowe. I actually liked him as Javert the second time I saw it. Pretty sure I have a talent crush on Marius! He was so good!

James Schlegelmilch said...

I agree with the review. As an avid Anne Hathaway hater, I was disappointed (to put it mildly) to see her cast in such an important role. But, I was pleasantly surprised by her voice, and was literally moved to the verge of tears during the "I dreamed a dream" scene. Such deep, powerful emotion is rarely captured in movies, let alone transferred to the viewers.

I agree that the international cast is the best ever. The movie vocalists were admittedly not on the same level, but the acting, cinematography, and special effects more than made up for the slight discrepancy in vocal ability.

Marius, awesome! I've never seen him in a movie, but I thought his voice was very good! He played a very good part in general. Valjean, amazing! Hugh Jackman, though not as powerful as Alfie Boe, sang beautifully, and captured the emotion perfectly. Javert, good. The first time I felt a bit let down by his voice. The second time he grew on me. Even with his vibrato-less voice, I thought he did a very good job. Plus, I felt that Crowe and Jackman played their opposing roles flawlessly. Fantine, amazing! Nothing more to add. Eponine, incredible! She definitely had the best female voice. Cosette, good. I don't think she did anything that took away from the movie.

I give the movie two enthusiastic thumbs up, and a Gilbert Blythe standing ovation, complete with clapping and weird tilted bouncing head/hair.

Bridget said...

Your last line FTW!!!!!

Liz Johnson said...

I'm glad to hear other Anne Hathaway-haters opine on this movie. I haven't seen it yet. I've seen it twice on stage and I actually read the entire unabridged book about 15 years ago, so I have such lofty, nit-picky expectations that I can't picture any result but deep disappointment. It doesn't help that I generally dislike Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe, too. And yet... I want to see Borat as Mssr. Thenardier! And I'm really sad to hear that Eponine gets cut out a lot - she's the best character, in my opinion. BAH! STUPID PEOPLE!! Why didn't they just cast Alfie Boe?! And also - Javert should've been somebody more seedy and generally evil than the hero from Gladiator. I mean, ugh. Ok, I have to stop. My disgust is starting to explode all over your blog.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

Good thoughts Steven and Kristi.

James Schlegelmilch said...

Which definition of FTW did you intend? I looked it up. I discovered two very different possibilities. :)

Bridget said...

For the Win, I promise. :)

Britney said...

Glad to see some others were okay with Russell Crowe's performance.

Anne Hathaway blew me away. I wasn't expecting that. At some point I got tired of wiping the tears from my eyes, which made for a very wet sweater by the end of the film!

And let's talk about Marius again. He can sing! Bridget, I know you've seen him in Tess of the D'Urbervilles. Don't you love the improbability that both Alec and Angel have now played Marius in different films?


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