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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
One of the best movies I ever saw. I always read through the reviews of
people who loved or hated it and was surprised how off base the haters
are. They generally hat two things: the close ups when the stars are
singing and the fact that some of the singing is less than perfect.
Both are choises made by the Director Hooper.
I thought the close ups added to the power and emotion of the performances. this is, after all, an over powering tragedy. Every character suffers unjust incarceration, extreme poverty, degradation, the killing of all their friends, etc. I felt the close-ups laid the emotions raw and was extremely effective.
Other reviewers, both professional and users, faulted various performers' singing as being less than perfect. This was a unique decision of Hooper to have the performers actually sing on the set, instead of pre-recording the songs in a studio and then lip-sync on the set. Most reviewers were in favor of the lip syncing. Really? You prefer the fake over the real? I grew up in Las Vegas and saw most of the great singers of our time live. There is no way I would have preferred to watch Streisand or Sinatra lip sync. A few sour notes is a small price to pay for the realism of the performance.
It appears that some reviewers are looking for some flaw, any flaw as a way to discredit a masterpiece. From beginning to end it was a wonderful experience. I saw the play three times and each time I went home and the experience stuck with me. The same thing with this movie. My only real criticism is when Jean Valjen rescues Marias and drags him through the sewers he is covered in pooh. A whole lot of pooh. Just his eyes were poking out through the pooh. Did we need that much pooh? We got the idea, it was a filthy sewer and he was willing to do anything. And then he encounters Javier (Russell Crowe) who is resplendent in a period uniform. I just wanted Valjean to throw a handful of pooh on him.
My other question is where were the French actors? The whole story is about French patriots dying for France. It all takes place in France and every single character is French. The main actors Crowe and Hugh Jackman are from Australia and New Zealand. The actresses, Anne Hathaway and Amanda Seyfried are from New York City and Pennsylvania. The rest of the entire cast is British. I'd be willing to bet that not one of the extras in what appears to be 20,000 extras in finale was French. Heck in the Dark Knight Rises, one of the main characters was French, even when that made no sense. The 2012 Oscar winner for best actor is French and is famous for being a singer, but not a single part was found for a French performer. It was like re-making West Side Story without a single Latino, Porgy and Bess without a single African American or Music Man without a single American. Here we had performers sing how they were willing to die for France, but they were not willing to cast one. And only one word in the entire film was uttered in the French language and that was "Bonjour". Very odd.
But of course, none of this really detracted from an emotional and satisfying film experience.
In most musicals, they often try to glorify the settings, but I really
liked in Les Miserables that they wanted it to look the actually
setting of how it was in the decade that the movie is set. I believe
that the t.v. show The Fugitive(1963-1967) was a little inspired off
The actors are fantastic here, Hugh Jackman really shines here, so was Russell Crowe, but Anne Hathaway really blew me away, she really felt bad for her, she gave a good acting job through singing, I hope she won't be missed by the Oscars, If she is I'll be very angry. Amanda Seyfried is alright, and Sacha Baron Cohen lightens up the movie, the moments when he comes in the film. The setting is perfect, so is the actors in there roles, this is the best film of 2012.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'll declare my colours at the outset: Les Miserables is one of my
favourite books and I love the musical. So I was really looking forward
to this film.
It did not disappoint. This film will set the bar high for any future filmed adaptations of beloved musicals.
The way the shots are framed, the use of CGI and sets, the aerial shots to give you the scale of Paris, the brilliant scenery.... it's all amazing. But what is best is that the actors sing live - in other productions, even where the lip syncing is done well and the performers are great actors, it just feels a bit fake when they jump into song because they didn't do it live. There is none of that here. Singing live gives the actors a chance to lead the music, take charge and act the songs. The result is that if you adore the musical you might find yourself occasionally out of step when singing along (and I apologise to everyone sitting around me.... I did *try* to contain myself to just mouthing the words but think I got a bit carried away at times!) But the best result: the emotion is real.
Hugh Jackman is brilliant as Jean Valjean and should get an Oscar. Anne Hathaway has made no secret that she wants an Oscar for Fantine and is playing the Oscar game hard, but you know what? She'd deserve if she got it. Everyone in the cinema was sniffling and then bawling through Fantine's descent into hell and eventual death. Samantha Banks as Eponine is gobsmackingly good. Her version of On My Own will be THE version forever more, in much the same way that Elaine Page is associated with Memory.
While it was a little jarring to see some of the songs chopped down and the order of the songs shuffled around, it actually all makes sense - for example, it is far more powerful to hear I Dreamed A Dream after Fantine has lost her job, her hair, her teeth and started working on the docks as a prostitute. In the musical, it's after she loses her job and before she hits rock bottom. To hear "this hell I'm living" is so much richer and emotional when you see Fantine at rock bottom. Do You Hear The People Sing is a far better to rally to arms at Lamarche's funeral than after the revolutionary students' wine-fuelled rants.
But.... there is one but. Or maybe two.
I don't really get why they put in a new song, even if it did give Hugh Jackman another solo and a bit of extrapolation to get from the Theniedar's pub to the convent. When they are chopping down and out some others, why add more? But it didn't interrupt the flow of the film and added some storytelling, so I'm not overly phased.
Russell Crowe is not a theatrical singer. He can sing, far better than I expected. And he is good as Javert - he acts well and he sings OK. But that's just it: he's good, but he's not great. When everyone else is so great (and some of Javert's songs are the strongest in the score!) you need a strong Javert. He should have been spitting out the words "I was born with scum like you, I am from the gutter too!" but it felt like Rusty was just doing all he could to act, swing a sword and stay in tune - there's no power behind it, no matter how well pitched his vocals are. Stars was disappointing, but that's a personal thing - it's one of my favourite songs!
Go out and see it. But take tissues. You'll need them!
The movie is fantastic. It's a little sad that the movie is SO significantly better than the play. I did not really know what the heck was going on when I saw the play. And the music is good in the play BUT in the film, everything is so vivid, up close and I know I should be shot for saying this... But I actually liked the way Anne Hathaway sang I dreamed a dream better than Patty Lapone. Something about the way Anne Hathaway sang it, more personal and emotionally connected than the "theater" version, Patty Lapone sings just made it so great. And ALL the characters are so much more tangible. Sacha B Cohen is PERFECT with Helena B Carter. Hugh Jackman deserves an Oscar. The other actors were amazing too...Cosette young ..totally adorable & older Amanda S, Marius (Eddie R), Éponine (Samantha Barks) even Russel Crowe, all of them were wonderful. If you like musicals this to me is a brilliant combination of film and theater. LOVE IT!! Can't wait to see more like this. :)
While I heard of Les Miserables, I never actually knew what it was
about or had seen it in the movies or watched a play. After seeing
previews and trailers for this movie, I became interested. Now I have
to get my hands on the older movies.
I love plays and musicals, such as The Phantom of the Opera and Evita. I knew I would love this too and I did. 2 hrs was a perfect length of time to tell a complete story and trust me it doesn't feel as long once you get involved. You actually want to see what happens next. Like I said, I didn't know the story going into it, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I fell in love with it.
I also read what the cast had to go through to play convincing and genuine roles. That is a level of dedication that is so rarely done on film. It truly is an artwork and the actors/actresses are using their voices, talents and physical self to perform art. Its so rare to have a masterpiece put on screen.
Les Miserables was done so well that it seemed to flow seamlessly and for a second you forget that you're in a movie theater, or that you're seeing someone on screen that maybe played in another movie you know.
I definitely recommend you seeing it if you haven't already. Even if you aren't a big musical fan, you'll develop an appreciation of it after seeing this.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The women totally kicked ass in this movie. Anne Hathaway beat all my
expectations to a bloody pulp; she is officially a rock star musically.
Samantha Barks was a revelation; I can't wait to see what she does next.
Whatever project is wise enough to cast her, I will be sure to see.
Amanda Seyfreid was infinitely better than I expected her to be; her inexperience vocally totally worked for her here, adding to her character's believability as an innocent, cloistered teenager.
I wanted more development for Eponine's character, because just as in the musical, I found her to be the most relatable of all of the characters-certainly of all the female characters. The lack of extreme anguish in her character, the primarily silence of her suffering in a loud musical made it all the more poignant.
I was tremendously disappointed the director cut the latter half of 'Turning', as well as his choice to include the incestuous-seeming, terribly-worded 'Suddenly.' The only real note I have on this film is that the director seemed too inexperienced, certainly too unaware of the layers behind the female perspectives this script presents, to do his job at a beyond merely 'satisfactory' level.
Thanks to him, what should have felt like a revelation instead at times felt jolting and unnecessarily grim. This is a story about hope, not despair, and he seemed to linger in the bleakness with a troubling glee.
The choice to cast Russell Crowe rather than an older, stiff-upper-lip, snarling and sneering at the "less moral" from his perspective individual was..not wise. That's been said already. Russell Crowe seems like a genuinely good guy, real down-to-Earth; his character is among the most difficult in the movie, and the actor clearly got little help either from the script which should have been edited to portray the layers of contempt behind Javer's interactions with Val Jean when Val Jean was still Mayor, for example, to make it more clear that Javer suspected Val Jean all along but could not speak up about it, due to Javer's station being so much lower than Val Jean's as mayor was.
This, again, the director should have caught, as well as the simple fact that you cannot cast a novitiate, as The Phantom of the Opera's casting Gerard Butler in the titular role to flop reviews clearly evidenced to play a role that has been consistently offered only to the greats-with good reason. Russell Crowe was clearly trying, but receiving no help with his performance--it's not his fault he was miscast.
That choice I blame sorely on the director.
The choice to demand the actors speak lines which were originally intended to be sung was also a grave mistake, in my opinion. These lines rhymed--they made no sense as spoken lines. It seemed the director was just trying to include more dialogue in the movie for those who don't like musicals, but-it is a freakin' musical! They sing! Get over it.
I mean that for the director as well.
The choice to include 'Suddenly' was unfortunate. The director I suppose was trying to make his mark on the story, but the song came out all wrong for the script--too long, indicative of a romantic relationship between Cosette and Val Jean-ew!..awkwardly worded even for the romantic song it darn well seemed to be. A song filled with language like that belongs on a Britney Spears record, not in a musical.
Did I mention that Hugh Jackman did his job here perfectly? Cuz he did.
I can't imagine any other male acting in Hollywood today who could have performed this role better. Hats off.
I saw "Les Miserable" at noon on Christmas Day with my wife & grown son
in a movie theater where well-dressed waiters brought sparkling water
to our seats to go along with our hummus and eggplant dip. It was a
much better & pricier film venue than we usually patronize, but it
seemed appropriate, given our extraordinarily high expectations for the
film. And besides, it's near my brother's home, where we spent
I did my homework preparing to see "Les Mis" critically, having spent dozens of hours singing along with various stage company soundtracks, and several thousand tickets at The Fabulous Fox over the last 20+ years. I downloaded the film's soundtrack a few days before Christmas, prompting a few snarky Facebook postings question Russell Crowe's contributions. I once even got a couple of hundred pages into an English translation of Victor Hugo's masterpiece (too many French names to keep up with, it turned out missed the music too much to read all the way through it). I read up a bit on France's June rebellion of 1832.
At the end of the day, several things about "Les Mis" exceeded my expectations. Hugh Jackman & Anne Hathaway were even better than I anticipated. Samantha Barks and Eddie Redmayne were especially outstanding. Colm Wilkinson was delightful as the Bishop of Dinge. Amanda Seyfried & Helen Bonham Carter were pleasant surprises. Sacha Baron Cohen surprised me by putting his own effective spin on Thenardier. Many, many others made their old familiar roles fresh & new.
My big shock was the success of Russell Crowe's performance. In the vacuum of the soundtrack, his voice seemed outclassed by his cast mates. On screen, however, his Javert was multidimensional & most satisfying. I've been a Russell Crowe fan since "Gladiator," & I was excited when his casting was announced, but after hearing the soundtrack I identified two big mistakes in this film's production: Hiring Russell Crowe, & not firing him after his first day on the set. He made it work with his screen presence, though.
Not all the changes worked for me. Creative makeup designs tried to evoke the disease & the squalor of 19th century France, but came out alarmingly close to 21st century zombie apocalypse.
All in all though, "Les Mis" is a winner. Les Mis devotees & musical theater aficionados have something new to love. If musical theater is your thing, this is your movie. If you are a musical theater neophyte & this film doesn't turn you on to the genre, don't waste any more money trying to catch the bug. This one's as good as it gets.
I love Les Mis. When I say I love it, I mean I know every single measure of every single song by heart. That being said, I found the "extra songs" to be awkward and grating. (But I don't think you would pick up on it if you don't know every single word...) Hugh Jackman portrayed Valjean very expressively and completely transported the viewer into the moment; BUT the role of Valjean requires a very adept signing voice as those songs have a lot of depth to them, Mr. Jackman just doesn't have the voice required for the part. Same thing with Russel Crowe portraying Javert. Some of the most intense, touching parts of the music were lost to less than adequate singing ability. Anne Hathaway, stole the show no doubt... However, I was also pleasantly surprised by Amanda Seyfried as Cosette, she wasn't the best ever, but was well casted and delivered quite nicely. Eddy Redmayne was a phenomenal Marius and has a surprising voice. The one role (albeit a small role) that I can't believe no one is talking about is Samantha Barks as Eponine... Wow! Filling the shoes of Frances Ruffelle was a big task (I am very biased in this area as Ms. Ruffelle is my favorite and Eponine is my favorite character)but Ms. Barks was stunning!! Overall, I loved it because it is Les Mis and it was done better than I could have expected from Hollywood.
Les Miserables is the best movie I've seen this year As great as the Broadway show was, the film is better, more action the closeups. etc The cast is excellent HUGH JACKMAN should receive an Oscar for his performance as should Anne Hathawy wonderful performances Russell Crowe is excellent as well though his voice doesn't stand up to the others Auduence broke out in applause several times (rare in a NJ theater) After Hathaways moving performance " I Dreamed A Dream" " and "Master of The House" ( Sascha Cohen , Helen Bonham Carter hysterical,) and for Hugh Jackmans performance of "Bring Him Home"At the end received a standing ovation.. Long yes 3 hrs, never boring not a bad moment in film beautifully directed by Tom Holland and photographed.. The most satisfying film I've seen this year ( and there are many good films this yr) Note* Glad Colm Wilkinson Broadways original Jean Val Jean was included in a small part as the preacher.. Ot to be missed!!
It's too bad not all of the leads are great singers. And somebody
should buy the director a tripod; the hand-held ultra closeups become
dizzying and pretentious after awhile. (So many times, this movie cries
out for an occasional wide shot. You know the famous
wagon-pinning-the-citizen scene? We never even get to see the wagon. We
start right with the closeup of the victim!)
But there's also a lot right with this version: inspired casting, rich visuals, and of course a brilliant score. Fascinating how certain themes and moments give "Les Mis" a different meaning when you have closeups (in this case, almost nothing BUT closeups) at your disposal.
Really glad we went. Would be gladder if the camera-work hadn't drawn so much attention to itself.
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