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'Les Mis' 2012 ... My Thoughts

First, let's just get it out of the way: Anne Hathaway is amazing and deserves an Oscar for stealing an entire movie during which her character died 1/3 of the way into the film. Many nods of respect have been sent her way from my corner of the peanut gallery. Also, singing while you're crying? Mad props. So freaking hard.

Les Miserables is not my favorite musical. Truth be told, I actually don't like it very much. Yes, the music is gorgeous, but it's depressing and I come out of it feeling like I need to slit my wrists. Not only that, but it is longer than the freaking line at any given Wal-Mart on Black Friday. Both the book and the musical tear me apart with all the killing of the characters I grew to know and love. Add to that a lack of resolution except for the marriage between Marius and Cosette, and I have absolutely no desire to subject myself to that pain again.

But that trailer... Seriously, guys. That trailer. Don't even get me started on the fact that it's "live" singing. We'll be here all day with my praise.

That being said, my thoughts below will not be focusing on the actual plot or music but on the performances of the actors.

I've already had my say about Anne Hathaway above, and I don't think any more needs to be said about her performance. Absolutely astounding. If she doesn't get an Oscar, I will be very surprised / put out.

Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean - I absolutely loved the emotion he brought to this character. The benefit of having this on film is that he could hold back vocally, take pauses, whisper lines (etc.), and allow for the moment to really sink in without hitting us over the head with bombastic tenor tenacity.

The only song that he didn't do that for - and this is my singular complaint with his performance - was "Bring Him Home." Now, perhaps it was his personal choice to sing this one with a little more fervor, but I went in looking forward to this song, expecting to see vulnerability and pleading. Instead, he was strong and demanding. "He will return, so help me," as opposed to "Please, God, just... please." For me, the power of the song was lost. Other than that, though... lovely. Just lovely.

(Side note: When he fell into that sewer full of feces... ick. I nearly threw up. Just... ew.)

Russell Crowe as Javert - Everyone has been in one giant tizzy about Crowe's portrayal of Javert, and I honestly don't see what everyone's so upset about. He wasn't great, but he wasn't offensively bad. What I noticed and found slightly off-putting was that he sang every line strictly and didn't take any sort of liberty with his music. Each half note was exactly 2 beats, and all eighth notes were perfectly placed and timed. This made his character seem stiff and uncomfortable where he should have felt strong and confident.

At the end, we have to understand that he is, first and foremost, an actor, and he's not as comfortable singing as - say - Mr. Wolverine / Boy From Oz. I commend his efforts and thought he did a valiant job in an arena in which he is not super comfortable.

Amanda Seyfried as Cosette - Meh. I have never been partial to this character (except for Claire Danes' version), so I am predisposed to not liking Seyfried's performance. Her voice was angelic, but her character came off very one-dimensional: a young girl who falls in love after a single look but blindly follows the man who raised her to the ends of the Earth for no apparent reason other than because he told her to. Granted, there was a lot of character development cut out from the book, but I just never liked the character.

That being said, she did a good job of serving as the light of the story. It's like Seyfried said in an interview, we need her to be "a symbol of love and strength and light in ... tragedy," and I feel like she did an ok job of that.

Sacha Baron Cohen & Helena Bonham Carter as the Thénardiers  - Loved them. These characters were profoundly necessary betwixt all of the heartbreak and sadness to cut the tension and provide some much needed catharsis. Without them, this movie would have been a terrible dirge. Both actors were a delight, and I loved to hate them and their dishonest conduct. Job well done, folks.

Eddie Redmayne as Marius - I sincerely enjoyed watching Redmayne play this role. I was mildly perturbed by his jaw tension while singing, but his voice is beautiful, especially in the mid to lower range. The upper got a bit tinny (due to the tension, I would assume), but his acting was spot on. "Empty Chairs & Empty Tables" was heartbreaking, and I felt his pain. Nice.

Aaron Tveit as Enjolras - As a character whose name I don't recall ever actually hearing in the film, Aaron Tveit was a standout actor for me. His voice is gorgeous, and he emotes really well. His conviction during his final scene was palpable. I didn't even pay attention to the fact that he's got a purty face, and that's saying something.

Daniel Huttlestone as Gavroche - Loved this kid. He was perfect in every way from his blonde hair and blue eyes down to his adorable cockney accent. I wanted to pinch his cheeks and take him home with me. It absolutely tore me to bits when he was shot and killed, and my face commenced to look like the ugliest punching bag known to man.

Have you guys seen it? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!



Wentz said…
Nothing about Eponine? For shame, Stef.

We talked after the movie, and had similar opinions, but here my thoughts that I didn't have time to voice last night.

Hugh Jackman- his upper register sounded super thin to me, and his voice just seemed kind of nasal/bright to me, ESPECIALLY in his upper. Also, while I feel like he had lots of good moments throughout the movie, there were lots of parts where he seemed to be phoning it in. "Half note here, but let's make that an eighth note and gasp for air. Okay, done that, got that big high note coming up. Hopefully it doesn't suck. Whew, that went not terribly, how many measures until the end of this song?"

I agree with you about Russell Crowe. Didn't think about it that way, but totally correct.

Seyfried's vibrato was REALLY fast, and I was honestly surprised that there is a Hollywood actress nowadays that can sing that high. It wasn't perfect, but I need my high notes!

Marius' head tension ruined some tender moments for me, but he did an otherwise excellent job.

How did you NOT notice how beautiful Aaron Tveit was?! Such a pretty human.

Never having seen the show or read the book, I had always been under the impression that Eponine had a bigger part, so that was something of a disappointment, but I really enjoyed her for the most part.

And again, millions of accolades for Hathaway. Bitch turned it out.
It's released here on Jan 11th, I'm very excited to go and see it :)
juliababyjen said…
Thanks for the review! I can't wait to see this! I'm a huge Anne Hathaway fan, so I'm so happy to hear you loved her. Winning an oscar for this movie would be epic!
Stef Howerton said…
Wentz, my lack of commentary on Eponine will probably tell you how I felt about her. While I'm not particularly offended by her performance, it was very "meh" for me. She played the role on West End in London, so I expected excellence. I didn't get that from her. Her death scene was moving, but only because Marius was so invested. I wasn't moved by her, and her vibrato was very strident to my ears.

That being said, not a poor job, but... meh.

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