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I wasn't sure what "Les Miserables" was going to be like, but I went to
see it at the movie theatre anyway and I am very glad I did. This film
version is based upon the Broadway musical and, like the stage musical,
is sung-through. It is very well done and I definitely recommend seeing
The story is pretty much the same: Jean Valjean (not a very creative name, I know) broke his parole and has been being hunted by Javert, the slightly obsessivecompulsive policeman. Valjean meets dying Fantine, who asks him to look after her daughter Cosette. They follow Valjean as he raises Cosette, Javert as he follows Valjean, and also an uprising against the poor conditions that the French are living under during the time period in which the movie takes place.
The acting in this is amazing! The singing is really great too, with the exception of Hugh Jackman. Jackman is good in his role but I personally do not like how he sings. Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway both do wonderfully in their songs. I fell apart the first of many times during this movie when Hathaway gave her heart-wrenching performance of "I Dreamed a Dream". This movie has an enormous cast, so I will save time by just saying that the acting of the cast, both lead and supporting, is awesome. You will want tissues handy, because, trust me, you are going to need them.
If I were to describe "Les Mis" in just one word, I think I would use "powerful". The ending is absolutely beautiful, but then, the whole movie is (except maybe for the parts with Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen). This one is a must-see. I will be very surprised if it is ignored by the Academy, because it has both crowd-pleasing and artistic qualities to it. You should definitely watch it, even if you are not really a musical fan.
HOW I RAN INTO "LES MIS". Italy is one of the few western countries
where the stage musical "Les Miserables" is not performed. As far as I
know, nobody ever produced the Italian adaptation at all. I got
interested in it when I discovered that Russell Crowe, definitely my
favorite actor, was involved in the movie version. This compelled me to
do some preliminary research, even though I am not keen on musicals at
all. Since I've listened to the stage shows, like the 25th anniversary
concert (thank God there is YouTube!), I've been falling in love with
the story and the songs. So, I was really eager to watch this movie. I
was also curious to see why there were several negative reviews about
Crowe's performance and about the director's style.
THE MOVIE. I will not deal with the plot, as it can be found in tons of reviews. I'll just give my two cents on the movie. I can see why many purists think it is worse than the stage show. Yet, I don't agree. The singing is more crude, as it is recorded live while acting in real scenes - often involving physical strain. This is a MOVIE. I don't find the less-than-perfect tunes to be annoying at all. They mix well with the sense of reality the scenes convey. Even though not all the actors are equally good performers, I did not find anyone to be dis-likable. Crowe might not be ranked as the best singer among the cast, but I find him to be *very* far from being the worst. His voice, very enjoyable when he sings his own rock-folk songs, here turns slightly nasal in some parts, as this singing style is surely light-years away from Crowe's usual gigs. But his portrayal of Javert remains totally convincing. Hugh Jackman is brave and AMAZING. Full stop. Deserved kudos will focus on Anne Hathaway, yet I think that Jackman is the real deal in this movie. As a whole, I found the film to be slightly too long, yet I cannot find a single scene that I'd agree to cut. A dilemma, indeed. The shaky use of hand-held cameras and the director's inclination (the pun is intended) to repeatedly tilt them are not totally pleasant, but I did not find them so invasive to distract me from the story. "Les Miserables" made me hum, sing, laugh and cry. I was totally absorbed in it. In the audience where I was sitting, men in particular found it quite hard to get through the 2.5+ hours of singing (my husband had directly decided not to join me...). As I said, here "Les Mis" is known by a very few people, and this will not help the movie to be appreciated. Moreover, in Italy non-dubbed movies like this are very rare as people have, on average, a poor knowledge of the English language. No matter what, I will annoy friends, colleagues and relatives with my pleads, hoping to convince them to give this movie a try. Unless you are *very* adverse to musicals, I suggest you not to have prejudices and to go and see "Les Miserables". Oh, and... Women, bring some tissues.
I guess there are two types of people in this world; those who buy in
to the world of musicals and embrace them, and those who do not. If
like me, you fall in to the first camp, I'm sure you will love this
movie. From the opening scenes where the two main protagonists, Jean
Valjean (Jackman) and Javert (Crowe), first lock proverbial horns, I
was sucked in to the turbulent world of 19th century France. The story,
if anyone doesn't know is based on Valjean's struggle to turn his life
around whilst on the run from the police in the guise of Javert. All
the while playing surrogate father to Cosette, the child of Fantine.
Along the way there are thrills, spills, action and romance. Basically,
most of the ingredients in any blockbuster. What sets this film apart
from the rest, is the seamless way it sweeps the audience through all
of life's emotions.
The cast is exemplary. The singing, a triumph. Crowe has come in for much criticism for his vocals, which I believe to be extremely unfair. Would he be cast to play Javert in The West End or on Broadway? No, off course he wouldn't. But then I can't imagine that any of the main cast, with the exception of Samantha Barks (who plays Éponine) would. We must remember, this is a film musical and not a stage musical. Film and stage are two very different art forms, and require different talents. I cannot think of many (if any) other actors that would bring the required level of acting gravitas to the role of Javert.
The casting of Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter in the comic roles of the Thénardiers is a master-stroke. Both slip into their roles with ease and play them as larger than life characters and bring much needed light relief. Bonham Carter somehow manages not to be completely upstaged by Baron Cohen. Surely not an easy task for anyone.
Les Misérables has received a whole host of Oscar nominations, but how Tom Hooper has not been nominated for the best director gong is beyond me.
This is a great film, it will make you laugh and make you cry, but most of all it will make you wish you could sing!
I loved this film.
I would not of thought that such a thing could be humanly possible but it is. After all I do not count myself as a massive musical fan or a fan of the original source being either the book or the musical. Having nether seen the musical or read the book, I wasn't sure as what to think about the story as what I had heard was mainly synopsis from IMDb or other such websites.
I was quite surprised at how detailed the story actually was. Which is nice considering at what low expectations I had of the story on a whole.
The film stands apart from the most modern film musical with the largely incredible performances from the cast. Which rest on the shoulders of an incredible Hugh Jackman. But the supporting characters of the film have some quite incredible performances. Most namely Eddie Remane and the incredible Anne Hathaway.
Tom Hooper show's what a talented director he truly is. Demanding incredible performance's from all of the cast. Which is what he gets no question. But also the way in which he shoot's this film. From the long close up's he uses to the incredible swooping shoots that shows just how amazing the spectacle of Les Miz truly is.
All in all. I was not expecting to like this film as much as did. But came out of it with a tear to my eye but also throughly enjoying this film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There's plenty to enjoy in the latest movie version of the musical Les
Misérables about a group of beautifully sad and tragic people. But
ultimately it leaves me feeling disappointed and not as gaga over the
performance of Anne Hathaway or the songs as some of my fellow musical
lovers. I feel that the movie could have been so much better.
I have heard people complaining about the movie being too long. But I thought the movie was a bit rushed. The musical production is 3 hour-long and it was perfect. The movie introduces and cramps many characters and story lines together and drags on the scenes of the revolution and the battles. My friend, B, said the second half is too long and boring. A lot of the scenes transitions are very abrupt and sudden. The change of tone really hurts the flow of the story and makes me really hard to get into the drama.
The relationships between the characters are underdeveloped. I did not feel the strong emotional bond between Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) and Cosette (Amanda Seyfried). This may be why I was not moved when Jean Valjean died in the end. Some characters are also significantly marginalized. There is very little interaction between the characters to make me feel their feelings for each other. Each musical number seems to appear too close to the one before, and there's no room for the song to sink in. The songs are sung very over-the-top at times too when a more subdue simple approach would suffice.
There are, of course, plenty of things to appreciate about Les Misérables. The fantastic cast. The breathtaking, albeit fleeting, performance and voice that fly from Anne Hathaway's mouth. The way Jean Valjean sings to a sleeping Cosette in the carriage. The strong performance of Eponine (Samantha Barks) singing "On my own", the way all the characters try to maintain a sense of honor and principle in a world, except for the Thenardier couple (even the Thenardiers are very likable). The amazing set, scenery and costumes are really more appealing on a big screen than onstage. For most of us, I can see that the movie would be a fine and powerful entertaining adaptation.
But as a fan of the musical? I can't make myself care about what drives the characters in this movie version. When I read reviews by people who really, really love the movie, I feel like an ultimate outsider. It's so gorgeous! I cried! I wanted to clap after every song! The costume! And if you do, good for you! You are probably capable of a more sophisticated attitude toward this Les Misérables than I can manage. I, on the other hand, miss the impact of each songs sung by the live actors and the sense of the French revolutionary period captured by the stage production.
I do think it is a must-see for the musical lovers. The movie itself is a great effort that has its moments but never fully connect to the beauty of the musical.
Excellent film in most respects; the singing is exceptional and
performances intense and very believable. There are however two
exceptions to this - the Thernadiers are miscast leading to the ruining
of Master of the House. This is a rousing song with very clever words
which were lost in the film by poor delivery and not helped by the
fussy camera work during it. You have to see it performed by Alun
ARmstrong to really appreciate it.
Having said that the orchestrations are to die for and the performances by Ann Hathaway and Hugh Jackman are first class and deserve awards as does direction and settings and costume. A 'must see' film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When Tom Hooper won the Best Achievement in Directing Oscar two years
back for "The King's Speech", a friend said, "Someday he'll pay the
price for grabbing the statuette that belonged to David Fincher". Well,
his words came true. Tom Hooper was snubbed by the academy for
directing one of the greatest Musicals, a genre seldom preferred by
movie-goers and studio heads alike, in the present day.
There have been umpteen adaptations of this fine piece of Literature and the makers of this version of "Les Miserables", with all the script revisions and enhancements, have produced a movie that deserves an applause.
The wonderful Production Design takes us back to the early years of a post-revolution-19th century France.
Jean Valjean, played by Hugh Jackman, is incarcerated for stealing bread to feed his sister's daughter. He's out on parole. Offer shelter to a desperate man and he'll make you regret. Jean resorts to stealing silver articles from the church that offered him shelter and after being pardoned by the priest for his crime, he breaks his parole. Javert, played by Russell Crowe, pursues an absconding Jean Valjean.
Eight years pass on, Jean, now a Mayor, owns a factory. Fantine, played by Anne Hathaway, is a pretty woman in the factory, is fired by the factory foreman. In desperation to care for and protect her daughter Cosette, she unwillingly turns to prostitution. Jean is touched and moved by Fantine's miserable plight and promises a dying Fantine that he'd take good care of her daughter, Cosette.
After the Mayor confesses his true identity, Javert doesn't give up his quest for finding and bringing Jean back to justice. Jean, along with Cosette, is on the run.
Nine years later, people are again infuriated by the ever-widening economic divide between the autocrats and the general populace, giving birth to another revolution. Cosette(Amanda Seyfried), now a beautiful woman, falls in love with Marius(Eddie Redmayne). Javert locates Jean and Jean takes Cosette away.
Jean learns of his adopted daughter's love interest and goes back to find Marius, a man at the vanguard of the revolution. The rebels are crushed by the police force. Jean saves Marius' life and brings him back to Cosette and leaves. Cosette and Marius get married and Jean passes away.
It is a well-known fact that the Best performance by an actor in a Leading Role statuette has the inscription "Daniel Day-Lewis" on it, but it has been Hugh Jackman's best performance yet. Anne Hathaway, Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter have been really impressive and Russell Crowe's performance, I think, deserved a nod from the Academy.
For me, it has been a good year for movies. It is also good for me,
because I have seen a good chunk of Best Picture nominees, and this is
just one more to add to my checklist. I still have yet to see Zero Dark
Thirty, Amour, and Beasts of the Southern Wild. Off the bat, I knew
nothing about this musical walking in. I didn't see the other
adaptions, nor have I seen the musical, nor did I watch trailers for
this one. I still really wanted to see it with all the Oscar buzz it is
getting. I'm going to say right off that I loved Les Miserables, but I
still believe that it had its flaws. I don't think it's going to win
Best Picture, but it might win a few subtler categories, such as
production design and costume design, and maybe an acting award.
Probably not the acting, but there's still the 1 in 5 possibility. But
anyone who knows anything knows that this movie is flawed, but it is
still a wonderful film and I look forward to possibly seeing it again.
There were some flaws, but at the end of the day (pun intended (people
who've seen the movie will understand)) this is still a wonderfully
made and well-acted film.
The plot centers around Jean Valjean, played by Wolver-I mean Hugh Jackman, who has gotten his first Oscar nomination with this role. Jean Valjean decided to steal, and he became a prisoner under the guard of the ruthless policeman Javert, played by Russell Crowe. After nineteen years of being a prisoner, he goes on parole, but sure enough, he violates it. He ends up being hunted down by Javert for years and years. That's not all of it though, there is also Anne Hathaway. Anne Hathaway in one of her best roles, plays Fantine, a broke mother who is desperately trying to make money for her child, Cosette. After being fired, she resorts to prostitution, and Valjean agrees to take care of her daughter for her, all the while being hunted by Javert. This decision creates the setup of the movie and all of the events that take place.
Here's the good of the movie: it is extremely well-acted. All the performances were really great, and I loved every character. Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway just made the movie the greatest it could've been. Russell Crowe, although not as vocally able as the others, still gave a solid performance. I think that everyone deserves the nominations they got, especially Anne Hathaway. Another unique thing about the movie, something that I didn't know about going in, is that it is all sung. I thought it was going to be something like Hairspray where there would be songs here and there and then dialogue in between. Not the case. In this movie there are literally about six lines of dialogue, and the rest is sung. I think that's a unique way to make a movie, especially a musical. I also give props to Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter to shedding some humor on the otherwise dreary tone of the movie. They added to the greatness of the movie. It had a lot of raw emotion in it, although not enough to make me cry. That egg hasn't been cracked yet. I've only cried in one movie ever, and I'm waiting for the day for another movie to come along. Either way, this movie still was very emotional.
Now the bads, mostly just minor things. I'm going to get the spoiler complaint out of the way. *SPOILER* Anne Hathaway...she was doing so well and then she just dies...and then you basically see nothing of her for the rest of the movie. And she got nominated for an Oscar...she was literally in the movie for like fifteen minutes, tops. She did a great job, but still, she just dies. Me and my friend who I was sitting with, after she died, just looked at each other and were like, "That's it?" *END OF SPOILER* The cinematography, although great at most times, sometimes became pesky. There were MANY close-ups, which after a while became a little tiresome. Also, in the beginning, it was a little too fast paced. Things jumped around a lot, which I guess I kind of understand, because the movie is two hours and thirty minutes, but still, there was a lot of jumping around. My last complaint lies in the editing, which is to say, there is a lack of editing. There were some points where they would hold a shot, and it would work, but sometimes the shots would go on a little too long and I would kind of get bored. For example, when Anne Hathaway sang I Dreamed a Dream, they held a shot of her, and it was wonderful because her performance made you forget you were watching one take. But there were other pieces were the performances couldn't hold the attention of the audience. All of these are just minor things, nothing major.
Overall, I still really loved Les Miserables, and I think all of the attention it is getting is well- deserved attention, and I believe that it deserves the Oscar nominations it has gotten. I think it deserves a few wins as well, but probably not the big Best Picture, I still have yet to decide what I think should win it. I want to give it an 8.5, but I try to avoid decimals in my ratings so I'll round it up for your sake. Go see this movie, you will love it. It's amazing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I do not like sad movies, and this reminded me of how I felt after
watching Titanic - the actors were fabulous, the songs wonderful, but
had I know how emotionally draining this would be, I would not have
gone to see this movie. That being said for those who enjoy musicals,
it is wonderful and I did enjoy the music. There was a bit of comedy
thanks to the "thiefs" and the little blue eyed boy was remarkable...
go see the movie, but bring Kleenex!
Poor Russell Crowe, I didn't see anything wrong with his singing, and wept openly at his final scene. I will do some research now on the subject of the movie, the French revolution, I believe and educate myself with a little bit of history. I will also download some of the music, which I loved.
I am not a great enthusiast for 'musicals' but having seen and enjoyed
the stage production of Les Mis way back when, we decided to give the
movie a try. I'm glad we did.
The film starts with a bang as the camera swoops into a French naval shipyard where bedraggled convict labourers struggle to haul a huge galleon into dry dock. From there on the action moves at a brisk pace as the story of love and liberty unfolds over the next two-and-a-half hours of visual excitement and stirring songs.
The performances are uniformly excellent with Hugh Jackman, in the lead role of Jean Valjean, outstanding. Some critics have disliked the singing, but I thought it was always adequate and sometimes superb, a considerable achievement given that there was no studio recording or dubbing. Certainly the singing is vastly better than the awful efforts from Brosnan and Streep in Mamma Mia! That these are not operatic performances added to the reality of the story for me. However, the 'sung speech' became a little monotonous in parts, where everything seemed to be sung in five- or six-word phrases.
Even so, an exceptional movie, well worth seeing - my wife detests musicals but she loved Les Miserables!
(Viewed at The Cornerhouse, Manchester, UK 20.01.13)
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