The Blockbuster of the year, the blockbuster that so many of us have been silently and hopelessly waiting for….Les Miserables.
Ok, so I have been waiting for this film for a short while (a year) and I was hoping for nothing more this Christmas than marching (driving) my way to the cinema, getting the nice Gallery seats and crying my eyes out watching Eddie Redmayne singing ‘Empty Chairs at Empty Tables’. And in that sense, it did not disappoint.
Now don’t get me wrong, the overall film was groundbreaking (I hope). Tom Hoopers use of cartoon-like camera angles, panning of a (anti) picturesque Parisian slums reminded me of Chocolat or Moulin Rouge. The filming was top quality, although the CGI may be a tad overdone, but hey. You wouldn’t expect anything more, especially from it being filmed in one of the biggest stages in top notch recording studio, Pinewood. Hats off to Tom Hooper who did an excellent job on camera angles, portraying fragility and strength when it was deemed appropriate.
However, what I was disappointed about from Tom Hooper was the random song order and cutting out what I deem as crucial lyrics. I am aware that he had to cut down a lot to make a 3hr play into a movie, as well as adding all the transitions and extra filming. I was, however, pleased with the order of ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ (in which Anne Hathaway held a shotgun to everyone in the cinema’s heads and literally blew their minds) as it made Fantine seem much more desperate, but the change for ‘On my Own’ made Eponine seem like a petty school girl upset because her crush likes someone else, fair enough when he is willing to die for Cosette and asks Eponine to deliver a letter to her, but just when Marius and Cosette speak, for the first time, REALLY?
Moving on to the actors, the main man himself, Hugh Jackman, taking the lead of ex-criminal Jean Val Jean, was OK. He was just OK. At the beginning I believed he showed an appropriate amount of rage, suffering and fragility to a master balance, however, during the middle his singing slipped slightly, along with his acting, he brought it up towards the end, but hanging on by the teeth he coasted through the rest of the film, whilst I was sitting, the least bit excited nor anxious for his next appearance.
The person who really blew me away was Eddie Redmayne. Man he can sing. He graced the screen with such emotion, love and passion that you want to get up, punch a monarch, and join a student revolution in 19th century Paris. His rendition of ‘Empty Chairs at Empty Tables’ could be likened with Anne’s ‘I Dreamed a Dream’. There was shedloads of raw emotion just pouring out of Redmayne’s bloodshot eyes, oozing from every freckle.
Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter can’t be missed. They offered a light comical affect to a down right miserable (miserables) movie, as they do on the stage. (It was a light relief from all the dying, the shooting, and the crying), they played their parts and made them their own to perfection.
Lastly, Russel Crowe. I love Gladiator, and that film complimented Crowe’s techniques, however, Les Miserables brought out many flaws that were unknown to me. His acting did not show WHY Javert was constantly pursuing Val Jean, and has no justification (certainly not through singing) for Javerts (SPOILER ALERT) suicide. He did not show the mental illness that Javert suffers from that appears so obviously in both the book and the stage show. He made Javert seem petty and not crazed, mentally ill or faithful to his position as what is shown in both the novel and the stage show. I was extremely disappointed with Crowe’s acting and singing and am hoping that it will be the first, and last time, he appears on our screens, repeating his painful rendition of ‘stars’.
Overall, it is definitely worth a see, pack the tissues and have high hopes, because this film will not disappoint, (although i may have put you off). Non musical lovers will think twice, with the vast amount of action his film holds, as well as drama and musical. If this doesn’t want you to march off that backside of yours and join in on a Student Revolution marching down the Parisian streets, I don’t know what will.Enjoy people.