Saturday, January 19, 2013

Les Miserables

Les miserables 2012
SM Cinema gave me a copy of this poster yey!
From the day it was first announced, I have been one of those who followed its developments. I was thrilled when these three got cast: Jackman, Hathaway and Redmayne. Finally a musical that was meant for them! I got pissed when Taylor Swift was once chosen for Eponine, but let's all forget that ever happened. Got excited & goosebumps when the trailer was released and impatient with its release date here. Then January 17 happened.

But let me tell you first what I know. I've read the novel way back in college for one humanities class and although I've forgotten a whole lot of details (it was unabridged), the main characters and different story lines are still fresh from memory. At that time, I also watched the 1998 movie, Liam Neeson's non-musical version. As for the musical I haven't seen, well, two words: Lea Salonga.

I hoped to watch the movie with my college classmates, whom I shared Les Mis classes with. But then I also wanted to go with my high school friend who happens to have a voice made for musical theater. Who do I choose? The first one who calls of course. My high school friend texted me Thursday morning. How could I refuse?

So on to the movie. As expected Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway were perfect. I was amazed they looked tired and older just like how anyone who carries a lot of burden would be. Sacha Baron Cohen was surprisingly good. I didn't know he had that voice in him. Helena Bonham-Carter on the other hand was her usual self. It felt like going through Sweeney Todd again. If that's any good or bad is for you to decide.

Les Miserables "Red and black"
Samantha Barks as Eponine was sweet and fine (voice not nearly as good as...) though I wished she didn't smile too much. Amanda Seyfried's voice was not powerful enough, which I guess suits her role (but that note wow!). Her voice reminds me of the animated Snow White, a fragile damsel in distress. The third person in the love triangle, Eddie Redmayne as Marius, had a wonderful deep voice. But what's even better are them barricade men combined. I especially loved Aaron Tveit's doomed Enjolras and that young, clear and determined voice. And his performance, I wonder why he's not getting any more exposure. It was really good. I would gladly join him in his battle

Did I forget someone? Oh yes, Mr. Russell Crowe, who I first saw in The Quick & the Dead. I can only imagine what he would have done if it wasn't a musical. I really wish he did better, but it seemed singing occupied most of his brain that his acting felt distracted. You see, when I think of Javert I get Geoffrey Rush's annoyingly obsessive rule of law but also his conflicting conscience. Crowe should have been a little irritating because of his character not because of his unchanging expressions or of his singing. Speaking of his voice, it was not bad. It's also not a match. It's what I call bungol (deaf) like something you would hear from underwater.

For a novel that long, it is understandable when characters and details are left out. But it was extraordinary how this film (or the musical) managed to reduce the whole book in a comprehensive and complete form. Complete in a sense that all of the most important themes and characters I could remember where given enough time on screen...hmm except Sister Simplice, but we can assume she was that nun who nursed Fantine. It was very fast paced, yes. But my companion who hasn't read the book understood the story well. I need only mention some other details like what a wonderful priest the Bishop was, what happened to Valjean's business and things like that.

What surprised me though was Grantaire's reaction to Gavroche's death. I thought I missed that in the book, but no. Apparently, the creators of the musical took the liberty of adding this brotherly relationship and it was one heck of a moment to remember. Aside from that, my other favorite scenes were Valjean's "Bring him home", "Red and Black", "Empty chairs at empty tables" by Marius, and Javert awarding little Gavroche a medal.

Les Miserables 2012

I have complaints, too, on close-ups, focus and camera shake. I felt like I was watching through a 50mm lens. But let's not delve into that. The movie was exceptional. It was a timely piece on what history has to offer, brilliant young men & women always dying first before people make some changes and take action. It centered on the themes of conversion and forgiveness, remarkably embodied by Valjean through the help of one kind act by the Bishop. And in the end, it was the Bishop himself who welcomed him to His kingdom.


  1. I cried an ocean watching this. I even thought can someone have fever from too much crying? Because I had fever the following day.

    I think they can get a better Javert other than Crow. I agree, it was something you hear from underwater. It was all too nasal.

    Epinone was so hot. Pretty voice,pretty face and a teeny tiny waist, I wanna steal all of them.

    1. I cried too, from "Bring him home" onwards, but I had to control myself because I had a companion hehe.

      Yes Eponine's waist was unbelievable!

  2. Ah great review! Very interesting, I still haven't seen it, but am dyiiiing too!