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  1. #1

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    Les Miserables (2012)

    In 1998, a trailer advertised a movie based on a story which “became a musical that conquered the world.” It was for a movie of Les Miserables. A NON-MUSICAL movie . Ever since then, the Les Miz fan in me has been waiting to see the musical come to the screen. Now that I finally have, my reaction is predictably mixed.

    Most modern movie musicals rely on lots of fast editing to keep the songs visually interesting. In a dance number, you can jump cut all over the place, but the question always remains - what the hell do you do with the big solo ballads? Alan Parker's Evita turned “Don't Cry for Me, Argentina” into a redundant flashback montage. Ditto for “One Song, Glory” in Chris Columbus' Rent. And Hooper faced an especially daunting challenge with Les Miz, which has a big solo about once every five minutes. What we mostly get is long takes (sometimes half the song) of extreme close-ups of the singer's face. I give Hiddleston credit for bucking the trend, but all those close-ups of people sobbing sometimes felt like that oft-parodied “I'm so scared right now” scene from The Blair Witch Project.

    I actually found Fantine's (Anne Hathaway) “Come to Me” more tearjerking than the much-touted “I Dreamed a Dream”, probably because it felt more like a scene.

    During “On My Own”, Eponine's wandering around the dark, empty streets, the rain mercilessly pouring down on her, and I was thinking, “this is exactly how I pictured this scene.” And then she settles down in one spot – and you know that's all you're gonna see until the end of the song.

    “Stars”, sung by the unwavering lawman Javert (Russell Crowe), has some nice symbolic shots, including Notre Dame cathedral looming in the background, (a nod to Victor Hugo's other most famous novel?) Although I would have expected them to show more...well...stars. Also, I missed the harpsichord in the orchestrations. (Wait, wasn't I praising this part?)

    I wondered how they were going to do “One Day More”, the song in which almost every character sings different things at the same time (which I love). They pulled it off, but it was kind of methodical - Now we're looking at this character singing. Now this one. Now this one. I didn't think the editing built up the tension the way the song does. But it's followed by “Do You Hear the People Sing?” which is cleverly staged with the revolutionaries hijacking a funeral procession.

    Basically, whenever the visuals do get more inventive, the movie soars.

    But there's some stuff that seemed more conceivable in the abstract world of the stage. Take “Bring Him Home” - Valjean (Hugh Jackman) offering up his life in place of Marius', even going so far as to say “he's like the son I might have had, if God had granted me a son.” Screenwriters, how about slipping in a conversation between them prior to this? Or at least have them, you know, say hello and shake hands? Okay, so Valjean knows his daughter's in love with the guy, but even she only met him once...through a fence.

    Also during “Bring Him Home”, Valjean suddenly walks in front of a huge eye painted on the wall. The symbolism of the “Eye of God” watching him pray was so over-the-top, I just had to laugh.

    Valjean also gets a new ballad,“Suddenly”, (sung to a sleeping Young Cosette) which is OK but will probably not go down with “I Dreamed a Dream” and “Do You Hear the People Sing” in musical history.

    Colm Wilkinson, the original West End/Broadway Valjean, shows up for a cameo as the monsignor who shows Jackman's Valjean mercy. This may be the most perfect cameo since Jackman cameoed in X-men: First Class.

    The big stars – Jackman, Crowe, Hathaway, etc. - all do very well, and I'm sure will get tons of praise, but the street urchin Gavroche totally steals the show. This kid is just awesome. As he sings, “this only goes to show what little people can do!” Second to him are Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bohnam Carter, who bring much-needed comic relief as the theiving Thenardiers. (Carter acted more like I picture Mrs. Lovett in this movie than she did in Sweeney Todd). I feel sorry for poor Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia), who does her best to look pure and good and radiant as Cosette, but is just given nothing to do.

    But yeah, it was entertaining and had some really good stuff in it. I came out of the theater singing “Master of the House”, so I guess that's a good sign.
    Last edited by animagusurreal; 12-29-2012 at 01:15 AM.
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  2. #2

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    Re: Les Miserables (2012)

    ​Thanks for the review!
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  3. #3

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    Re: Les Miserables (2012)

    I never saw the original play, but I was amazed by the film. A definate Oscar contender(notably for Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, and Best Picture).


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  4. #4

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    Re: Les Miserables (2012)

    ​Oh, the stage play is amazing. You should see it if you can.
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  5. #5

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    Re: Les Miserables (2012)

    First I have to say that I am a huge fan of the show Les Miserables. The story and music are just so powerful and shows how far the human race will go to survive during desperate times. Now with that said, I love the stage show and I love the film for the same reasons. This was not supposed to be the stage show on film, if so, they would have just recorded that like into the woods way back when. But I loved how they could do things in the film that they can not do on stage. The visuals were fantastic! Some of the connections they made with the dialogue that were not in the stage version were well needed and I feel that this was probably the best adaption of a play to film unlike say RENT.

  6. #6

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    Re: Les Miserables (2012)

    Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of musicals, but I must say that I am now in love with Les Miserables!

    It's truly fantastic with amazing performances by the entire cast (Anne Hathaway brought me to tears) and the music is simply stunning. The songs have been stuck in my head for days; they're just amazing.

    Really a great film! But bring tissue; the story is very powerful and very sad.

  7. #7

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    Re: Les Miserables (2012)

    I've had the soundtrack in the car for at least a month and a half after working the stage show for just a week. So yes, the music is amazing and stays with you.
    I pledge allegiance to the Earth, one planet, many gods, and to the universe in which she spins.

  8. #8

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    Re: Les Miserables (2012)

    Just got back from my second time; seriously, everyone needs to go see this movie!!

    It's incredibly powerful and the songs/story/message/characters really stick with you. It's absolutely a masterpiece!

  9. #9

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    Re: Les Miserables (2012)

    I haven't seen the movie yet...I'm too nervous! For me, Les Miz is that one show that every theatre professional has that "made them grow up to have a life in the theatre." I'll never forget seeing the Broadway tour in Columbus, OH when I was in high school with my mom. It changed my life, and now a million years later, I'm a set designer. That said, I so nervous to see this film. I've hyped it in my mind for a couple years now and I've totally freaked myself out! Is this silly and dramatic? Absolutely! (But I am in theatre!)

  10. #10

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    Re: Les Miserables (2012)

    Take the film as it is, don't compare it too much to the stage version. Some of the changes startled me, even the ones that I find myself approving of. Some of the visuals are fantastic, as are Cosette and Marius; gorgeous voices. Perfectly matched.
    I pledge allegiance to the Earth, one planet, many gods, and to the universe in which she spins.

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