I’ve had a great love of musicals since I popped in a VHS of Newsies in 1992. My love only grew as I got older discovering more and more amazing musical stories. It wasn’t until last year that I was exposed to Les Miserable, the musical (I know, waited long enough right?!) and I absolutely loved it. I watched the 25th Anniversary Concert Edition constantly, saw it live at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta and jammed out to Javert and Valjean in my car. I was truly inspired by the music but most of all by one of the greatest stories of judgment and redemption. The musical is based on the book with the same name by Victor Hugo, which is currently sitting on my very large, to-be-read list. I was ecstatic, but hesitant, when I heard it was going to be turned into a movie. However, the trailers took my breath away and I drug my husband to watch it in theaters the day after Christmas.
I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I can’t say that it blew me away. Nothing can compare to the special energy of seeing a musical on stage but the movie didn’t completely ruin it either. The best way to sum up how I feel about this movie is I enjoyed the actors/actresses that had done Broadway before. You could tell who they were; they could sing. I’m not saying the other big name actors couldn’t sing but they didn’t have that Broadway tone — that full, rich sound that fills giant theaters of expectant viewers.
One thing that makes this movie adaptation unique is there are no voice overs. What you hear is the actor actually singing as the scene is being shot. Anne Hathaway (as Fantine) did a memorable job and sounded really good compared to the other big name actors. I didn’t like how her acting got in the way of her singing, though. During “I Dreamed a Dream,” she was so busy crying, her notes sounded squashed and airy. This is Fantine’s moment! It needs to be epic!
I have to admit I despised Russell Crowe’s (as Javert) singing. It was so monotonous! Couldn’t they have picked someone else? He did a great job acting but the singing was mediocre. Javert is my favorite character, and I didn’t like Crowe’s rendition of him. Hugh Jackman (as Jean Valjean) did an amazing job acting. His singing was better than Crowe’s but still not up to par. I mean compared to Alfie Boe in the 25th Anniversary Concert Edition, who was the best Jean Valjean that has ever been, Jackman pales in comparison. He couldn’t hit those sweet high notes in “Bring Him Home,” which is my all-time favorite song in the musical.
Samantha Barks (as Eponine) was AMAZING! She was part of the 25th Anniversary Concert and she’s the perfect Eponine. Her voice was sweet, clear and perfect. She had me in tears during “On My Own” and “A Little Fall Of Rain.” Amanda Seyfried (as Cossette) was awful. She had the worst high-pitched vibrato that made all her notes too sharp. I want to cover my ears just thinking about it. Little Cossette, however, (played by Issabelle Allen) was PERFECT. “Castle On A Cloud” is another one of my favorites and she nailed it! Her sweet, innocent, desperate face on the cover of the movie poster makes my heart swell.
British actor, Eddie Redmayne (as Marius), had a peculiar tone that I can only describe as “ginger,” but his rendition of “Empty Chairs and Empty Tables” was breathtaking. I truly believed in his grief that couldn’t be spoken. He wasn’t what I pictured as Marius but he didn’t completely blow it either. I have to give a shoutout to Daniel Huttlestone (as the street kid, Gavroche). He played his part so well I cried. I could probably sit here and give you a whole character analysis but I’ll stop now. 🙂
In case you’re wondering, yes, you should see Les Miserables. If you’re in it for the story, the movie is just fine but if you’re in it for the singing. I’d go see it live or I’d recommend you buy/rent the 25th Anniversary Concert version. Overall, the movie wasn’t bad. I love this story. Everyone should see it, so any way it can be shared with others is a great thing.