Les Misérables

Les Misérables April 30, 2013

Tonight I finally watched the movie version of the musical Les Misérables. It was wonderful. I had heard great things about Anne Hathaway’s performance and having gone in with high expectations, I was not disappointed.

I had also heard terrible things about Russell Crowe’s singing, and while having gone in expecting it to be awful, I actually liked it. It wasn’t at all the operatic style that some may associate with the role of Javert from other performances with other singers. But it seemed to me to work just fine for the part.

There were very few of those in the leading roles who did not move much closer to speaking than singing at moments, as they sought to convey the words and the emotion in a manner that fit the moment in a cinematically appropriate manner. There were instances when simply belting in a broadway style would not have worked, and as they approached a quieter voice, the melody and lyrics could not be rendered in exactly the way they might have been on stage.

For those of us who’ve listened to and/or seen the on stage musical version multiple times, the singing by Hugh Jackman and others was a hard sell. But I felt that the performance worked and what may have at times been diminished in musicality was more than made up for in emotional power.

In every version of the musical, Eponine grabs the spotlight, having such a wonderful musical part. And so here’s a clip of Samantha Barks, whom you also may have seen in a stage performance:

What did you think of the movie? Did you love Les Misérables?

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  • Brant Clements

    I have seen Les Mis on stage and caught the movie on the big screen. They are different media and different experiences. I thought that this was an excellent adaptation to film. I, too, liked Crowe’s performance, though the people I was with were less impressed. He sold the role. Hugh Jackman was good and Anne Hathaway’s performance was stunning.

    The weakest parts, both as regards performance and directorial choices, were Sasha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter in the comic roles. And even they were just fine.

  • Sherry McCameron Peyton

    Yes, we saw it a few weeks ago. Mouth agape afterwards. Simply wonderful. Should have beat out everyone for best picture. Ann Hathaway was amazing. Will for sure be watching it again. Crowe doesn’t have the voice, but somehow it didn’t matter. Jackman was great. Can’t figure out how Argo got the win over this. We’ve seen both and no comparison as far as we were concerned.

  • Kevin Reese

    I’ve seen the stage version a few times. I could only sit through about 20 minutes of the film. Been there, done that. The story, for me, is too intense for film and its close-ups. I need the 50-100 feet of distance that is found in a live theatre.

    • Thanks for sharing. For me, the first 20 minutes or so were the least compelling vocally as well as in other ways. And so it might be worth giving it a second chance at some point! 🙂

  • Jack Collins

    Oh, don’t get me started. I’ll admit I am a musical-theater snob, a singer, and this is my second-favorite show, so I am a tough audience, and I’ll also sasay that I was crying through most of the movie, but it was just…wrong. Uncanny.

    The in-your-face, live-sung filming style severely limited to range of vocal volume and expression, even for the good singers, and Russell Crowe…let’s just say I enjoyed it more when I watched it at home and could sing over his parts. But the most disturbing thing (to someone who knows every note of the show) was how they cut and rearranged it. One of the things that makes it a great show is that it is TIGHT. Not a note is wasted. Themes and leitmotifs are reused in order to guide the emotional journey, so any piece you remove or misplace throws off the balance of the whole thing. The reprise of “Little People” at Gavroche’s death doesn’t hit nearly as hard if you cut the first version, and they gutted the tragedy of Eponine by not having her deliver Marius’s note, and losing the doublet of “No, I don’t want your money sir” and “Oh God, it’s everywhere.”

    Now, most of the changes they made actually brought the movie closer to the book, but, well, the show wasn’t the book, and didn’t need to be fixed. Especially Eponine’s death.

    That said, it was a very entertaining film. Eddie Redmayne’s Marius hit it out of the park, and Samantha Barks’s Eponine was lovely (see what happens when you hire musical theater actors for your musical?). But it just wasn’t as epic as it could have been.

    (Believe it or not, this is the short version of my review.)

  • In many ways, I thought it worked better as a movie. I had a much better sense of story and character development than when I saw it on stage. I thought Crowe was fine, too.

    The one thing that I didn’t think worked as well was “I Dreamed a Dream.” I think that is a song that works perfectly on the stage and is better served by a performer who gets out of the song’s way rather than one who puts her stamp on it.

    That said, Les Miz isn’t my cup of tea when it comes to musicals. Give me The Book of Mormon.