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I have never been able to comprehend what anybody hears in this
"musical." The score is a trite, repetitious, uninspired and
unmemorable collection of chords that go nowhere and say nothing. For
as many times as I have heard and seen this show, none of its music
sticks in my mind's ear...and I say that as a musician. Ask me to hum a
few bars of this aria or the other, and I can't. It's THAT unmemorable.
The limited musical vocabulary of the composer(s) of this score is
The score imagines itself to be more like an opera than a musical as every single line of dialog and "song" is intoned. I say "intoned" rather than "sung," because song - from which singing derives - requires a melodic line which rises and falls, and which reinforces the text being sung. Much of Le Mis is sung on a single tone, extended speech, as it were, that grows boring in very quick order. It's like a trip to an old Roman Catholic church where all of the monks were unfortunately monotones. I have visions of the composer writing a single note as a placeholder for 15 pages of music, with the idea that he'll come back later and write the actual melody...only he never did!
This music is ghastly stuff! It's The Emperor's New Clothes in musical guise. To quote Gertrude Stein, "there's no there there" when it comes to the music.
And so along comes this movie which drops this horrible, uninteresting score into the hands of a bevy of actors who couldn't sing "Mary Had A Little Lamb" were a gun put to their heads. There is more awful singing per minute in this movie than in any other musical in history. Much has been made of the director insisting that his actors actually sing their intonations on set, rather than syncing to a prerecorded soundtrack. BAD IDEA, because what we as an audience get to witness are the contortions and physical agonies many of these "singers" go through to emit the simplest of musical thought. This is not art. This is the amateur hour, a hack show of, well, epic proportions.
Singers who actually know how to sing "give their all" NOT through convoluted and obviously painful and visible tensions in the throat and body, but by having a singing technique that allows them to produce their basic sound freely, with emotion and drama added to what is, in fact, a balanced and easily produced sound. Of course, the masses see this physical distress as a singer "giving their all," rather than what it actually is - ie: a singer struggling against themselves to produce the effect they desire. Can one imagine admiring an athlete for whom simply putting one foot in front of the other in a foot race was the hardest thing to do in life? No, we'd say "that person is an amateur who hasn't a clue as to what it means to run a race." Yet in this 2012 version of Les Mis, we are supposed to praise amateurs for their INABILITY to sing. Pathetic.
But does it matter? The truth is that one could drop the finest singers in history into this "musical," and they would still be stuck performing the musical equivalent of singing the phone book.
Dreadful, dreadful stuff. The stuff of adult nightmares, in fact.
Were there a "zero" rating available, I'd give it to this turkey.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Les Miserables" is a great musical.
Don't waste anymore time. Give every Best Supporting Actress Award this year to Anne Hathaway.
It's not light and fluffy like Mary Poppins; it deals with an extremely dark and difficult time in human history. It's a bit long and uneven at times.
If all singing is not your thing you may have trouble with this. Hugh Jackman can act and sing. Russel Crowe gives it a good shot. So what if Crowe sings in front of a bird statue, it's not a crow. Songs are spread out to the supporting cast and they all deliver.
It's an extremely powerful movie that evokes emotion. If you don't want to cry don't go. If you go and don't cry you have no heart. If you want to be amazed by the power of a movie spend two and a half hours with this outstanding cinematic achievement.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I had the pleasure of watching the film today; I entered the cinema
with some degree of apprehension, as I thought it highly improbable for
the film to live up to my impossibly high expectations of it as a huge
fan of the musical, but any reservation I held was gone by the end of
the Overture, and, for the next 150 minutes or so, I relived the first
time I watched the musical at Queen's. By the end of the Finale, I was
an emotional train wreck (though visibly still much more composed than
many around me).
I will get the two gripes I have with the movie out of the way to make room for the considerable praise I plan on showering upon it. First and foremost is Russell Crowe's singing; it has been the subject of harsh criticism, and while I agree that it might not be to everyone's tastes (it certainly does not suit mine), it certainly is not quite as bad as the critics will have you believe. His voice is quite nasal, and his range limited, but there are moments (such as the beginning of "Stars") where one could see why he was cast. Second is the music direction (and by extension some of the performances); as a purist of sorts, I was unhappy with the number of cuts they have had to make to the songs, and some of the songs have had to be modulated down to make them more comfortable for Jackman and Crowe to sing. There are also some slight changes to the orchestration, some of which I find uncomfortable. Jackman's performance of "Bring Him Home" sounds a little strained, and is a little too aggressive-sounding for my tastes, though the sheer emotion he pours into it is undeniable.
Now for the good bits. The cinematography is stunning. The scenes in Greenwich, Portsmouth and the Alps are visually stunning, and the Parisian set in Pinewood with the barricade is a feast for the eyes. The CGI is unashamedly unrealistic and larger-than-life. These two factors alone could make a convincing argument for why there exists a need for film versions of musicals. Hooper's decision to fill the screen with the actors' faces in their numbers has been derided by some critics who claim that it reduces the movie to a glorified series of music videos, but I personally find that this makes for extremely immersive and intimate performances, as every twitch of the eye or the mouth is clearly visible. This works particularly well with the live singing, which makes it much more believable than any previous musical film effort. The sound recording, the costumes, the makeup: all wonderful and deserving of awards (if unconvinced, watch the "making of" featurettes on YouTube). All the performances exceeded my expectations (even Crowe's; the critics would lead you to expect something akin to Brosnan's performance in Mama Mia!). Jackman, with the exception of my personal indifference to his "Bring Me Home", is a phenomenal film-Valjean, whose highlights are definitely his soliloquy ("Who am I") and his Death Scene. Bohen and Carter are excellent as the Thénardiers, bringing much needed comic relief to the movie. Barks, of whom I am a huge fan from her stage performances as Eponine, shines, with "On My Own" being one of the highlights of the film and is quite different from how she used to do it on stage. Redmayne's "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" is tear jerking, and he makes for an impressive Marius all-round. Allen and Huttlestone are among the best young-Cosettes and Gavroches I have ever seen. Seyfried's interpretation of the role is definitely not for everyone, but the fragile, sweet and somewhat bell-like quality of her voice captures the innocence and beauty of Cosette perfectly. The star, though, is without a doubt Hathaway, whose "I Dreamed a Dream" and death scene drew the most tears. Her acting and singing were sublime, and will influence all future performances of the character.
Les Miserables is a film not to be missed, if only to watch the acting performances from Hathaway, Redmayne, Barks and Jackman. It is different enough from the stage version for the fans to have something new to which to look forward, yet loyal enough for it to be able to serve as an introduction to the stage version.
And bring tissues. Lots of tissues.
I don't get it. I think people love Les Mis as a story so much they
cannot write a negative review. This movie is terrible. The first sixty
minutes is almost all close up views with no background. Faces and
bodies filling the screen top to bottom. No depth, little screen
context. And actors who cannot sing.
The CGR at the start of the film is ridiculous. Totally unrealistic. And the idea ludicrous. Nobody pulls a ship into a dry dock in the midst of a storm when it is listing far to a side.
"I Dreamed a Dream" is a beautiful song and sung well, with lots of emotion. But who needs a face that big singing it with such a big body that every spot on her skin is like a blob. Instead of featuring the negatives (scraped skin, bloody cuts, ragged and dirty hair), why not pull back so we see the scene.
And the music continues in the current trend of pound on the instruments. Make is noisy. Get the deep base so lound it shake the seat. Why? Fit the music to the movie please.
I think it is sad that big names, big budgets and a a beautiful story mean good reviews and awards even when the movie is second rate.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I feel like I'm about to explode! I just had what I can only describe
as the best movie experience of my life. I don't even know where to
So I'll start at the beginning.
I came across a book.. a really thick book in an old book store and bought it. I never read the book for a long time because it would require a lot of patience to get through it. It was written in a time and about a time that was way beyond my understanding. But I had to read it. Not reading it would be a sin. It was an incredible book! Yes. There was a lot that I didn't understand.. like the war, the revolution, among other things. But the writing oh the writing. Victor Hugo wrote his characters and their stories so beautifully. I fell in love with all of them. Eponine, the poor miserable Eponine. Gavroche, that sweet little rat whose death was so brave and so tragic. Jean Valjean, that wretched soul who tried so hard to be good. Cosette and Maruis, lovers in a hard world. Enjolras and the Friends of the ABC who were invincible. Javert, who had no room for gray in his world. I loved them all. It's only great writing that can embrace you into a story even when you don't understand much that is going on.
Then came the musical. It wasn't what I would expect in a musical. But I had an open mind, cos I love musicals. For me it was one of those musicals that can actually change your life. I was lucky that I got to watch the one with the dream cast. Watching Philip Quast as Javert was an experience that I will never forget. The lyrics of the songs were larger than life. The singing was so incredible I thought my heart would burst! The actor who played Maruis annoyed me because of his sweaty upper lip. But everything else the Thenardier husband and wife singing 'Master of the House'; the prisoners singing 'Look Down'; Fantine singing 'I Dreamed a Dream; the ABC singing 'Red and Black as well as 'Do You hear the People Sing' I could go on and on. Those were wonderfully written songs. You didn't need anything else to understand what was happening. I never imagined a musical would be able to accomplish a task that could clearly only be done with a movie.
And finally.. The movie itself that caused me to stay awake till 4 in the morning with this feeling like my heart is going to burst. I can still hear the echoes of the songs. Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean was a treat. I can't believe that was Wolverine!! Anne Hathway had a short role as Fantine but she ruled my heart. The child actors playing Cosette and Gavroche were unbelievable. It was quite tragic to actually watch Gavroche die on screen (Manly tears were shed by my movie date). Enjolras is the most badass and the most beautiful man I've ever set eyes on. Russell Crowe was no match to Philip Quast as Javert. Watching the action along with the marvelous songs and music, and the amazing acting from the entire cast all of it was just very overwhelming. I'm still recovering.
To love this film is to see the face of God!
Of films most recently seen leading up to the Oscars, this one leaves
me breathless, wound up, crying, laughing and in short totally wrapped
up the incredible long length of its run.
I believe this film will go into the history of cinema as a phenomenal talent & range of each actor's artistry in singing, acting, comedic timing to compel laughter, tears, anger -- basically the whole spectrum of human emotion -- and infused into the story by each.
Even for those "not into musicals", be assured, you'll walk away from this one mesmerized and touched in every emotional string..over and over again throughout each scene.
This movie is a truly engaging, cinematic achievement, which will
remain in hearts and minds for some time. The familiar lead characters:
Hugh Jackman, Russel Crowe, and Anne Hathaway do a phenomenal job in
their varied roles, providing a surprising and stimulating performance.
An integration of various whimsical/funny elements are introduced,
while offset and led by the dramatic.
While this movie IS a musical throughout, which should be known and understood to a prospective viewer, the singing becomes second to the story, which is triumphant in its portrayal.
For those who can can immerse themselves into the story, and not get distracted by the musical elements, they should find themselves caught off guard, inspired, and lifted up by this really wonderful production. It was certainly worth the time spend in viewing it and in the money paid to share in this grand experience. Based on its category, and up front understanding of Les Miserables, the whole of this movie is well deserving of its high ratings. I give it 10/10. To me, worthy score, leaving my nit-picking of small details off to the side, as they do not detract from the whole of it.
I've never been a big fan of musicals. I was recently introduced to
this story via some earlier movie versions and began reading the book.
Regardless of adaptation, the story is a great one. It is a critique of
man's ways and a story of redemption(s).
I found this adaptation to be very "human". Actors are shown with all flaws showing, and many added for the roles being played. The singing was great at times, flawed at others, but a good mix of the two. Again it was nice to keep the human aspect intact with the singing. It was easy to connect with the characters due to the visual and audible humanness about them.
I found Eddie Redmayne's performance to be one of the best - he portrayed his characters emotion on his face and in his voice - and in his eyes - nicely. I'm surprised to not hear more about his performance.
Most of all, Les Miserables is a great story! It is food for thought, a social commentary, and at the same time entertaining. If you are not familiar with it as i was until recently, i highly recommend checking it out - again, for the amazing story on it's own.
one of the best musicals i've seen...Anne Heatherway is truly amazing actress & singing I dreamed a dream made me shed some tears...her singing is beautiful & she acted the part vert well..was very impressed with the other characters as well...very surprised at Russell Crows singing...who would of thought this man could sing?! Helena Bowen carter was amazing/funny as well as Sacha Baron Cohan...laughed/cried durning this musical...I would watch this again!!!!!! also made me feel for the charters & at times had a ump in my throat as well the hairs at the back of my neck stood up! Hugh Jackman was very good as well, Incredible songs that you could sing along to!!!!!!!!! shame these actors are not on the stage! Would recommend this to anyone x
This movie is an excellent attempt to capture Les Mis on film which
I've read many of the reviews posted on this site and firstly would like to clear up a few inaccuracies. We Americans are so insular, aren't we? We think it's a Hollywood movie based on a Broadway show set during the French Revolution. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Actually, it's a British production made in London based on the hit West End show (which later transferred to 42 countries - one of which was the USA). It's not even set during the French Revolution! European history isn't our thing, right? The storming of the Bastille, Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette etc...that was the French Revolution and it happened in 1789....the rebellion/ uprising scenes in the movie are set during protests in the 1830s.
A reviewer bemoaned the fact that most people on screen sing/ speak in English/ cockney accents. Errrr....that's the way many of the locals in London talk. Someone else suggested they should have French accents. Oh puhleeeease.....where's the realism if everyone has phony accents that sound like Inspector Clouseau?! Street urchins using their genuine London accents sounds much more realistic.
OK, now for my review proper.
I loved the movie. Having seen the London stage production 3 times and listened to the CD hundreds of times I had high expectations. Anne Hathaway as Fantine steals the show - I Dreamed a Dream is one of the greatest tear-jerkers ever written, and she does it justice. WOW! Speechless. Samantha Barks, Eddie Redmayne, Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe....all great. Crowe's Javert is most convincing, and his singing isn't nearly as bad as I had expected after reviewing some critical reviews. Sets, costumes, sound, direction...all top notch.
The big disappointment is Sacha Saron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter as the Thennadiers....they just didn't tick the right boxes for me. Master of the House is a bit flat.
The overall movie experience is an emotional roller-coaster - if you don't shed a tear at the end you must have a heart of stone.
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