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I went to an awards screening of Les Miserables and left the cinema
speechless. Tom Hooper's direction and the cinematography, costumes,
art design and editing are nothing short of genius.
Hooper's idea to have the actors sing live really brings a deeper emotion to the film not seen in other movie musicals. Hugh Jackman is absolutely incredible as Jean Valjean and carries the film with spectacular grace. Anne Hathaway is magnificent in her fleeting role as Fantine - the film's sequence in which she goes on a downward spiral is one of the it's best moments, and her ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE HEARTFELT rendition of 'I Dreamed A Dream' will win her the Oscar by itself.
Also, a great supporting turn from newcomer Samantha Barks as the heartbroken Eponine (look out for her waist - it's absolutely tiny!), who is sure to be shot into stardom. Eddie Redmayne, Russell Crowe and Aaron Tveit are also good, and there's some great comedy relief from Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen.
It will leave you laughing, crying, and feeling inspired. A great watch, sure to win some major awards this year! 10/10!
This film is amazing. Absolutely incredible. I don't understand what
people are saying about pacing issues, I thought it flowed beautifully.
The changes made worked very well. And I didn't think there was any
weak link in the cast. I honestly loved Russell as Javert. He wasn't
traditional by any means, but what he did worked.
The cgi was not the best, but it kind of created this fantastical other world while still being realistic and grounded.
So many of the acting choices were brilliant and subtle. For example Jackman ever so slightly altered his voice with his characters aging, which I thought was brilliant.
There is no negative thing to say about this movie. However, I do see why a critic may not like it. It's not a critic movie. There isn't a lot of impressive violence, crazy camera shots, etc. the things critics seem to love. It's more grounded in the performances and the story, which it tells extremely well.
The only thing I can point out (because I saw it with my boyfriend who knows nothing about the story) there are two or three slightly confusing plots for those who aren't familiar with Les Mis. But they are either explained later on or not important enough to dwell on.
Anyways, that's my rant. Needless to say I will be seeing it many many times and cannot wait for the DVD so I can own it and watch it even more.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I went to see this film as a complete Les Mis virgin, having no idea as
to the storyline, and having never seen any previous production nor
having read the novel.
But I enjoy musicals (both in the theatre and film versions) and I went with an open mind, and looking forward to seeing something a little different from the norm. Sadly, within the first few minutes, I knew I'd made a mistake, and this has become one of my most hated films of all time.
Indeed, I always rate films but rarely review them, but I just had to get this off my chest. Particularly because so many reviews seem to be gushing about its brilliance, and although I'm fully prepared to admit that my views are in the minority, I think it's important to air them if only in the interest of balance and representation.
It didn't take long to realise that every single word of the dialogue was to be 'sung'. I say 'sung' rather than sung, because it wasn't what I could really refer to as singing. Just because one woooooord of any given liiiiiine is extended like thiiiiiis, does not, in my mind, make it 'singing'. In fact, if it weren't for the extended words in nearly every sentence, the film would likely have been at least thirty minutes shorter.
The lack of spoken dialogue really detracted from many of the scenes. When even the most mundane of sentences has to be delivered in such a way, it becomes grating. I wouldn't have been at all surprised for someone to bellow out "pass the saaaaaalt". It was just awful.
And the repetition! I understand that chords and themes repeat throughout musicals, often linking similarities between scenes and concepts and characters. It isn't that I don't understand that. But this was too much. It was as though the same tones and flow were repeated every four lines. Every. Four. Lines. With the third or fourth wooooooords extended. Every. Single Time.
I'm getting wound up reliving the moment and I've waited till the following morning before doing this review in case my opinion mellowed.
And the duration of the film only served to make it worse. Occasionally the film would announce via on-screen text that it was now "8 years later", or whatever. And I felt as though I'd been there for that entire time. In fact, it felt like longer.
It became one of those films which leaves you feeling physically drained from the effort of battling through it. It was that bad. It felt like I've undergone a test of endurance and although I got through it, it wasn't without mental scarring!
Beyond the monotony, repetition and delivery, there was the story, which (perhaps as I had no prior knowledge of the source) was nonsensical. People falling in love within a single glance, which then goes on to motivate someone else to endure warfare to carry the person, half-dead? Chasing someone for what, 17 years, because of breaking parole for a loaf of bread, which itself warranted a previous 19 years of suffering? Only to then throw yourself to your death?
Am I meant to believe these characters? Am I meant to care about them?
Anne Hathaway's deterioration from factory worker to cropped and toothless prostitute was compacted into all of 42 seconds, so when it came to her performance of I Dreamed A Dream (which was a rare highlight in the film) its impact was stunted because why should we care about this woman? She's only just been introduced to us and we know nothing about her (presumably because everyoooooone is too busy singing like thiiiiiiiis instead of actually making us caaaaaaare).
Yet apparently Hugh Jackman cares so much about her that he then devotes his entire life to her child? It was mentioned at the very beginning that he has a sister and a nephew of his own, why not take care of them? Or were they dead (as he went to a cross in the ground after being paroled) but if that's the case it wasn't explained well.
A film should be able to stand on its own two feet and not require its audience to have read the book or seen the musical. The Harry Potter books far exceed the movies, yet people can enjoy the movies on their own merit. Not so with Les Mis.
And the casting was bizarre as well. I don't understand why the casting was given to Hollywood actors instead of singers. Borat? Really?? And accents were flying all over the place. Early in the film, when Hugh Jackman is in the church, he suddenly sounds as though he's stepped off the first boat from Ireland, and half of the cast of jumped straight out of a Mary Poppins chalk drawing!
I can't find a single redeeming feature to mention about this film. Miscast. Rubbish sets (most of it looking like obvious CGI). Repetitive 'singing'. No spoken dialogue. Nonsensical plot. Ridiculous pacing. No character development or involvement.
Beyond doubt one of the worst films I have ever watched, and I would sooner have my teeth extracted by a French street urchin than ever have to endure this horror again.
As a massive film fan, my tastes are very wide-ranging, but I do have a
problem with musicals. Nevertheless I was happy to take the opportunity
of a private viewing of "Les Misérables" at the London office of
distributors Universal - the day after the London première and a month
before the UK release - because of the outstanding success of the
original stage show (a run of 27 years with a total audience of over 60
million) and the surprising and impressive cast list (Russell Crowe,
Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter,
Amanda Seyfried and Eddie Redmayne).
The showing was introduced by producer Eric Fellner of Working Title who underlined the commercial challenge of making a film in which all the dialogue is sung and the themes are so political and praised director Tom Hooper ("The King's Speech") for his insistence that every take was sung live.
The two main characters are presented in the opening seconds of a sweeping introductory sequence: the police inspector Javert (Crowe) and the prisoner 24601 Jean Valjean (Jackman) in post-revolutionary France. There follows over two and half hours with barely a spoken word which will not appeal to all cinema-goers, but the production is a triumph with Cameron Mackintosh's musical opened up by dramatic shooting on Pinewood's brand new Richard Attenborough stage and some historic English locations.
If Crowe and especially Jackman are excellent, Hathaway - who lost 25 pounds and most of her hair for the role - is outstanding as the destitute Fantine and Cohen and Carter almost steal the show as the comical Thénardier innkeepers.
I'm not sure how long it will take for "Les Misérables" to recoup its investment cash- wise, but it's going to win award after award and rightly so.
What an innovative film!
Contrary to one of the reviews which canned everything about the movie from the plot to the actors' singing voices to camera angles (by someone who, to me, is obviously not familiar with the live theater productions of this musical nor it appears the he has ever been to any), I find this movie version is a a state-of-the-art capture of one the world's great musicals for the cinema screens!
The live singing is superb, showing the fragility (and flaws) of every performer ... and that's what a live-performance is all about! This movie captured a live theater production on screen for all cinema goers who never had the chance to enjoy a live theater production!
Kudos to everyone involved! A must-see for all! And a must-buy for those who wish to have a copy of this masterpiece for a keepsake!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The guiding ethic of any film adaptation of a legendary source must be:
"Change as little as possible." Those in charge of Les Miz knew
precisely what they were working with. A few songs are shortened, a
handful of lines altered, and a few scenarios condensed or adapted to
their original literary form, but the whole remains gloriously and
The Work Song is set to the image of a hundred convicts battling a stormy sea to pull a listing ship into dry dockand only here does the film's live-recording ethic fall short, as the music and voices lack the power to match the imagery, seemingly washed out by the sea noise, where the live musical would normally captivate from the first note.
Neither of them theatrical belters, Jackman and Crowe's performances feel subdued in the opening scene. But the film finds its gravitas the instant Colm Wilkinson appears as the Bishop of Digne, and from that instant, the next two and a half hours are nothing less than the repeated sliding of the viewer's soul up and down a finely-honed blade.
The ability to take close-ups gives the film an intimacy that is unattainable on a Broadway stage, and power numbers are sometimes reduced to a chilling whisper. Anne Hathaway destroys herself to bring Fantine to life, and her incredible, personal pain washes in waves from the screen. The tooth removal, normally excised from the musical, is even back from the bookthough modified in location. Confrontation is then viscerally set as a full-on close-quarters sword fight.
Film also allows a depth of scale that challenges the stage. The transition to At the End of the Day is a grim and powerful scramble through the slums of Paris, shaking the screen with the palpable rage of a nation. Look Down is another tour de force, while Do You Hear the People Sing emerges from a quiet, elegiac call to arms that organically overtakes General Lamarque's funeral procession.
Samantha Barks' Éponine lights up in her every interaction with Marius, and shots of her in the background of A Heart Full of Love are soul-rending. But she suffers just enough tiny cuts that A Little Fall of Rain is not quite as arresting as it should be, and the constant close-ups amputate the power of a scene that should captivate not only through its intimacy, but through the inactivity that washes across the entirety of a once-violent stage.
Russel Crowe's soft-voiced Javert takes some getting used to, and while it works more often than one might expect, he sometimes seems to be singing with a sock in his mouthmost notably during One Day More, where he seems to have been mixed in at a different volume level from the rest of the cast. Yet the cinematography of Stars is simple yet stunning, and Javert's Suicide suffers nothing in this interpretation.
M. Thénardier endures a few cuts (most notably the truncation of Dog Eats Dog), but Sacha Baron Cohen steals enough asides and chews enough scenery that his part hardly feels reduced.
The background has been filled in with elements from the novel, and those who have read Hugo's epic will appreciate nods to Fauchelevent and the Petit-Picpus convent, Gavroche's elephant-home, Marius' grandfather, and the tavern behind the barricade. There is even a quick cut to Gavroche when Éponine is shot, winking at their normally undisclosed sibling relationship.
Even the finale remains perfectly and satisfyingly intact. The only challenge with a film that so precisely parallels its stage inspiration is resisting the necessity to deliver a standing ovation once the final note has been sung. If only they had found a way to incorporate a curtain call.
As a huge fan of the musical, I have religiously followed this film
through its production from behind-the-scenes to trailers to
sneak-peaks. And let me tell you, Les Mis did not disappoint! From the
very beginning and the first swells of the orchestra's music, I was
hooked. And through the whole 2.5 hour movie, I was riveted.
Singing: Everybody was great! Russell Crowe was not PHENOMENAL, but was excellent in "Stars" and "Javert's Soliloquy". Hugh Jackman, too, had his weak moments...but really wowed during "Who am I?" and "Bring Him Home". Anne Hathaway gave the best vocal performance, followed closely by Samantha Barks.
Acting: A fantastic performance from the whole ensemble. Again, Anne Hathaway blew everybody else out of the water. Samantha Barks, Eddie Redmayne, Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe were also excellent in terms of emotional delivery. And Helena Bonham Carter and Sasha Baron Cohen were the much needed (and absolutely hilarious) comedic relief.
Production: One of the best period films I've seen. The costuming, makeup, hair and set design were impeccable. I really liked how people weren't made to be "pretty" as Hollywood often does; thankfully, the actors' teeth were not left movie-star white.
Overall, one of the best movies I've seen. I cried at least 10 times through the whole film, and the finale completely RUINED me. I was sobbing a full 15 minutes after the movie ended, walking through the theatre and out to the car.
Highly recommended for everyone!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I am quite frankly flabbergasted at the amount of positive reviews by
viewers and professional critics given to this movie. I do not remember
the last time that an audio-visual experience inflicted me with so much
pain, both mentally and physically. I think my theatre seat still has
indentations from me clutching the chair frantically throughout the
movie. I felt like the Clockwork Orange protagonist when he's tied down
to a chair and fed those nauseating stimuli (the main difference being
that he got to listen to some quality music in the process). It is
probably the worst movie I have ever seen. And I've seen a lot of
hubris in my time.
The review by MouthyMatthew summarises it the best. Over the top. Chords and themes excruciatingly repetitive (How possibly wouldn't they be? I mean, every line in a 159 minute movie has been "sung", down to the most banal mundane statement you can imagine.). The movie successfully drains your life energy as it progresses, since you have to employ a supernatural effort to stick with the characters' lines.
What would be a series of seemingly important storyline details ends up receiving a very cursory treatment. For instance, Fantine's tragic life trajectory. Furthermore, why on earth would they hire Hollywood bigshots with a singing talent of a sexually frustrated walrus to play these parts?? And the accents, oh, for the love of god. What the hell? Overall impression: laughably sappy (yet unconvincing) and above all insufferable.
In my humble opinion, I think people should not see this movie if they have not been exposed to the story earlier, by reading the book or seeing a good musical production of it. I truly hate that this will be my first impression of both the story and the characters, the one that I will always be stuck with.
As someone who has been burned by every single Hollywood adaptation of
Les Miserables, let me categorically state that this time it was done
right! Everything from the acting to the music to the sets was
borderline perfect. The only thing that could possibly be considered a
negative was something that was absolutely unavoidable. That is, when
you are taking a novel as voluminous as Les Miserables and condensing
it into a feature length movie, some things will be cut or rushed. This
is no exception. The movie moves at breakneck speed. Anyone who is fond
of the Broadway musical will no doubt not be bothered by it, but people
new to the story or those who have only read the novel might be put off
As far as the acting and music is concerned, I can find very little to fault. Russel Crowe was the weakest of the lot as I just didn't find his voice to be up to the task of singing some of Javert's songs (Stars immediately springs to mind). Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, and Samantha Barks were all especially good. The intense emotions their characters experience throughout the story are perfectly performed.
This naturally leads to a critique of the music. Anyone familiar with the Broadway show will undoubtedly find themselves joyously mouthing along to the familiar lyrics and might be surprised at a couple of brand new songs written specifically for the movie. Just as in the show, the music is brilliant and meshes wonderfully with the story.
One of the biggest treats, however, were the sets and special effects. The beauty and squalor of 19th century Paris was showcased magnificently and it really allowed you to become engrossed in story.
This is a movie that both fans of the novel as well as fans of the musical can both fall in love with, since even though there are some deviations from the novel this is still the closest a film version has ever come to being completely faithful to the book. Additionally, this movie is a perfect chance for those who have never read the book or haven't heard of or had a chance to see the Broadway show. I wholeheartedly recommend this film to everyone. My only warning is to limit your fluid intake, since at 2.5+ hours your chance of encountering an overflowing bladder is a very real danger.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If you don't like musicals or are not a fan of the through-sung style,
skip this movie. I will only irritate you (much like bombastic action
films torture me).
But if you're a fan of Les Miserables or musicals in general, then you're in for a treat.
Many people have criticized Tom Hooper's direction. For me, I just think these people have no idea what Hooper is doing, and do not realize the effects of his work (with the help of Danny Cohen's marvelous cinematography). The Dutch angles work very well, especially during the Lovely Ladies sequences -- Hooper skillfully created a surrealistic, nightmarish Paris for Fantine (and the audience), making us feel queasy and uncomfortable and horrified, in some ways, for Fantine. We have to realize that this is not a videotaped version of the stage play or concert. This is a movie. Hooper said that he wanted to create an extreme/heightened realism that is on the verge of being surrealistic. I for one applaud his choice and I think it works beautifully for the movie.
Same with the close-ups. They created the kind of intimacy you won't get on stage, and also provided the opportunities for the actors to do their work. The result is amazingly personal, intense. Obviously it works better for some actors than others (that's why we're thinking of giving Anne Hathaway the Oscar, not Amanda Seyfried), but over all, it's a great cinematic choice -- together with live recording... it's emotionally powerful.
I do have some gripes: certain hand-held camera shots could have been avoided or stabilized -- there is really no need for them. The barricade scenes can be somewhat chaotic and rushed. Unfortunately Hooper has to work in the confine of the musical structure, and the story is already almost 3 hours long. Also, they had to cut or shorten some songs to fit the time frame - to those who have seen the show 30 times, it could be unsettling.
The performances are excellent. Hugh Jackman carries most of the movie with dignity and amazing versatility. He may not be the best singer in the world to play Valjean, but he IS Valjean on screen -- his voice is characterized to fit Valjean perfectly. His "What Have I Done" is a revelation of what his song-and-dance man who is best known for Wolverine can do.
Anne Hathaway deserves all the accolades she is getting. Her "I Dream a Dream" will become the de facto performance for those who will play Fantine in the future.
Eddie Redmayne is a surprise -- I know the actor can act, but I had no idea that he could sing so well. And that he could sing and act at the same time with such grace and charm. It's not an easy thing to accomplish.
Samantha Barks and Aaron Tveit have done Les Miserables on stage before, and they are excellent in the film. Many stage actors can't transition to the screen, but these two have succeeded (with a lot hard work, no doubt).
Amanda Seyfried is one of the weakest links in the movie. She is, of course, lovely as the adult Cosette (Isabelle Allen is excellent as young Cosette), even though the part is underwritten (in the film or on stage). Her singing voice is okay, but not as strong as expected, and I find her performance somewhat one dimensional. But she and Redmayne have great chemistry together, and that's a good thing.
Russell Crowe also is the weak link. He is a good actor and I think he does his best with this role. But his rock-opera voice is jarringly different from the rest and he just stands out like a sore thumb. However, in the course of the movie he grew on me. In his final scenes I can see the great acting (it's all in the eyes, people!). So while I can't say he's the best Javert ever, I'll give him a pass.
The supporting cast and background actors are all excellent.
The production is rich and wonderful with great sets, great cinematography, great costumes.
Is it perfect? No. I haven't seen one single film this year that is "perfect." I don't think that exists. At the end of the day (pun intended), Les Miserables is all about the music, the characters, and the emotions, and this film delivers. I expect many award nominations for this film.
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