|SM Cinema gave me a copy of this poster yey!|
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.
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.
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.