Les Misérables 2012 ★★½

Part of the December Project: Film #66

I'm too disappointed to write a full paragraph style review, so I'm just going to dissect it piece by piece:

Music numbers:

Some of them are excellent, but the rest of them are so low key, especially for Les Miserables, that they are complete failures in terms of getting me roused. I Dreamed a Dream, One Day More, Stars, and both versions of Do You Hear the People Sing? are great. The rest is middling.

The Cast

Hugh Jackman: A mediocre Jean Valjean. He'd be fantastic purely for his acting alone, but his singing is just passable. I expected better.

Russell Crowe: A surprise. While his singing is far from being full of talent, his Javert is actually excellent, and his singing fits the way he plays the character. He didn't murder my eardrums, but actually made me pay more attention to him as his role demanded.

Anne Hathway: She's getting all the praise, and it's all deserved. She's quite easily the best thing about this movie. Her rendition of I Dreamed a Dream done in one close up has her going through a range of emotions all while singing, and it's excellent, and one of the few things in this production that moved me.

Amanda Seyfried: As expected, the worst part about it. I hate Seyfried. She does not look pretty, and she certainly can't act to save her life. It is her shitty Cosette that made me scream internally every time she showed up.

Eddie Redmayne: Another surprise! I didn't like Redmayne in My Week with Marilyn, but I loved him here. He brought that classically trained actor sensibility here, and he quite possibly has the best voice of all the actors (sans Samantha Barks).

Samantha Barks: The perfect Eponine. Cute, tragic, and has that beautiful voice. On My Own is one of the highlights mainly for her.

Sacha Baron Cohen & Helena Bonham Carter: Their Thernadiers certainly are funny, but only to a point. It got to a moment where there were moments I laughed on screen, and others where I got annoyed by them. Although this might be the result of their performances working.

The Rest: Everyone else is good.

Tom Hooper's Direction:

The biggest mixed bag of them all. There are moments where Hooper is really involved in what he's shooting, and there are some excellent shots and sequences.

But everything else is really bad. To the point where I can't tell if Hooper just doesn't care about the material, only some of it, or if he's so enthusiastic about this that he threatens to ruin everything.

The camerawork and editing is erratic in most places. I had trouble adjusting to what was going on in these moments, and I'm 99% sure that Hooper violated, no, raped several filmmaking rules multiple times.

I can't help but feel Hooper wishes he was rather making a Les Miserables FILM rather than a musical. I'm guessing this was the only way he'd get some resemblance of such a project off the ground. However, there are moments in the film where the film is unmistakably brilliant and operatic. Perhaps it was a case of both. Where he admired the grandness of it all and wanted to incorporate these moments. Who knows? His directing here speaks more than my presumptions ever could.

The Overall

A mediocre adaptation. It is sure to gain the hearts of less demanding fans, and I can't deny it works on that level alone. I was moved, but never as much as I should have been. I expected I would walk out of the theater unable to contain my emotions. I walked out with a sense of ambivalence, which really isn't good when you're watching Les Miserables in any form, musical or straight production.

5 Comments

  • Excellent review Cinebro: I'm rushed for time today but since I'm seeing this film soon I just had to read this.

  • Thanks for the review, man. Now I can reserve my time for a Jack Reacher watch and another go at Djangoooooo

  • I'd say still give it a go. There have been plenty others who seem to love it.

  • great review! i agree with a lot of what you said, but i kind of gave up trying to analyze it about 30 mins in and just tried to enjoy it. some of the performances are great, but the big stars were continually upstaged by the newcomers/unknowns.

  • I just got back from seeing it and enjoyed it a lot. I've never seen the musical before, though I do know the story, recognize some of the songs, and have seen the film adaption of the novel. Just don't get the issues some people are having with Tom Hooper's direction. Seemed perfectly good to me, and his use of closeups, especially during I Dreamed a Dream was an interesting way to go, when you'd expect just lots of wide shots and such in a film such as this.

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