Les Misérables 2012 ★★½

The very thing most people will praise about the movie -- Hooper recorded the singing live on the set, instead of using the prerecorded tracks -- is one of the biggest problems. These songs are beautiful, and very hard to sing. Which means you've got some talented people straining their asses off to hit these notes while the camera is just inches from their faces. The live-on-set aesthetic also creates a sort of sameness over more than two and a half hours of performance: because cutting would complicate the sound recording and matching, many performances have few to no edits. Sometimes the results are electric -- as in Anne Hathaway's astonishing performance of "I Dreamed a Dream." Sometimes, and more increasingly as the film goes on, it does not.

2 Comments

  • Those are exactly my worst fears. I just don't see how we can maintain the same level of artistic freedom with editing (one of the most underappreciated jobs in film) while doing this live singing.

    Also, I heard that they are letting the actors mess with the rhythm, which is a terrible thing to do. Doesn't that just eliminate half of what makes the music so interesting?

  • Nathan: I'm no expert but I didn't have any problem with phrasings. I did think have a problem with range; Hugh Jackman has a beautiful voice, but some of Valjean is at the upper reaches of his register ("Bring Him Home" in particular) and he definitely seems at times to be straining to hit the notes. Maybe "straining" is the wrong words -- maybe simply "working hard." It's not effortless; it's not a beautiful lullaby. It's a dude belting this thing out to make sure he hits the notes. And, again, when the camera is four inches from his face, there's not really any place to hide all the exertion.

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