Review of Les Miserables, the movie

Happy mothers day.

I finished reading Les Miserables the other day, and just finished watching the movie.  I had not seen it before.  I was pretty disappointed.  It was modeled after the musical, not the book.  Meaning little dialogue, and song after song after song.  What dialogue there was, they sung!  It was pretty painful to watch.  Couldn’t they have tweaked the dialogue to make it rhyme?  They tried, I think, a little, but it didn’t work.  They really needed to just speak the dialogue without trying to sing it.

The only actor that made the sung dialogue work was Sacha Baren Cohen.  He rocked. That sort of crazy mischievous character is perfect for him.  His wife, Helena Carter, also did a fine job playing off each other.  The song “Master of the house” was as good as, if not better, than the actual broadway musical.  Every other actor and song was meh.

Anne Hathaway did not do the weak damsel very well, imho.  Her teeth were too white.  Her last role was Catwoman and she kicked ass there and it was tough to not see her as a superhero.  After I realized the main character, jean valjean was played by Hugh Jackman aka The Wolverine, I had a hard time concentrating when he sung.  I just kept waiting for titanium blades to shoot out of his body.  Russell crowe with his sympathetic eyebrows made a pretty poor Inspector Javier.  His suicide at the end of the movie didn’t work, not after they had him standing on top of the city singing to the stars.  I think he should have played the main role of Valjean.   Marius and Cosette were also poorly cast.  I thought for ten minutes the blond companion of Marius, I forget his name, was Marius.  That is how he looked in the book, and his character as a determined, slightly tragic lawyer, fit the blond guy’s character.  Instead we had this young freckled-faced smiley guy.  I didn’t like him.  And amanda seyfried as Cosette, while not a bad choice, didn’t quite work.  She is supposed to be playing a 15 year old!  Instead she looked older than Marius.

The directing was pretty bad.  Besides making Jean Valjean actually look younger as the movie went on, the camera work was boring.  Just a closeup of the actors face as they sung.  I heard this was one of the very few television musicals where they did not dub over their voices – what you saw was what you heard.  Consequently, the director didn’t want to miss a word that came out of their mouth.  No cutting, no camera pans or zooms – Sound of Music this wasn’t.  Also the actors just stood there as they sung.  Give them some props or something, jeez.  it was almost boring.

And for my last complaint, the magic that made the musical what it was, the big death scene on the barracade, was all wrong.  They were supposed to die singing, waving flags, no cannons, no blood, no explosions, no special effects.  Instead they sung their song, then they all ran inside the building and hatcheted up the stairway and got hunted down in groups.  No singing, no flag waving, just background music and cuts to Valjean getting into the sewers.

On the upside, I thought the sewers were very realistic.  In the book they came across as kind of clean, and I never could picture what a quagmire looked like.  But the movie made that clear.  It was also the only point in the movie where I thought they weren’t trying to make the actors look ‘pretty’, which was good.

Grade:  C+

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