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TWO MINUTE REVIEWS: Les Miserables the Movie (Read 458 times)
Gary A. Markette
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TWO MINUTE REVIEWS: Les Miserables the Movie
Aug 18th, 2014, 10:36am
I first saw Les Miserables in London with my Sarah on our honeymoon. Thrilled to tears by the most magnificent theatric experience of my life, I leapt to my feet at its close along with the other members of the audience. So, when I learned that Hollywood was releasing a film of the musical, I was skeptical. I became downright hostile when I saw that the two male leads were Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe. I swore I'd never view what I took to be an abortion and I kept my vow for more than a year. Just recently, though, my barbershop chorus director -- a person whose musical acumen I respect and admire -- told me that she had watched and enjoyed the movie. She gave me the DVD and suggested I watch it. I did so after literally weeks of internal debate. My verdict: not bad.

Perhaps you think that's dam_ning with faint praise, but it's an honest appraisal. Hugh Jackman was better than I expected. Miscast because of his age and action/adventure status, he carried the part of Jean Valjean vocally. His "Bring Him Home" was better than adequate and his other songs were actually quite good. His voice is pleasant if not remarkable with color in the middle range and power in the upper register. His acting never quite achieved total psychic distance from Wolverine, but that's a challenge beyond most type-cast actors. He's earned my repect and I hope to see him in other, non-furry roles.

Russell Crowe fared less well. Vocally, Javert was beyond him. His voice is barely adequate and he had neither the power, nor the color, nor the phrasing required to carry the role. Again miscast, his lack of vocal competence seemed also to affect his acting. He was no better than above average in the role. He carried it, but never convinced this viewer of Javert's single-minded obsession or self-destructive final conflict. Ironically, his performance was the weakest of a lesser-known cast.

The remainder of the cast was very good--often approaching excellence. Anne Hathaway convinced as Fantine. Her voice was surprisingly good (although I thought an Oscar for her performance a bit over the top). I expected more depth from Sacha Baron Cohen as Thenadier. I would crawl through fire to play this role and Cohen never quite reached the level of joyous despicability I think the part requires. Again, better than adequate, but not excellent. Helena Bonham Carter, though, was superb as Madame Thenadier. Just saucy enough, just evil enough, she stole every scene she was in. Brava. Brava. too, to Amanda Seyfried as Cosette. Hands down the best voice in the cast, she redefined "sopranno." Her high register is both sweet and thrilling and her acting will improve with work and training. I look forward to seeing her in other venues. Eddie Redmayne was very good as Marius -- a strong tenor who may very well play Jean Valjean  when he gets a bit older. Samantha Barks was fine as Eponine--perhaps the most difficult female role in the show. She sings well and is a better actress than she needs to be.

Minor complaints are few. The chorus was -- rarely -- a bit sloppy with entrances and lyrics (especially in "Look Down" and "At the End of the Day." I place that with the musical director focusing on the major characters and allowing the chorus to fend for itself. I wonder how many of the stage chorus members were in the movie's ensemble. Settings were beautiful, camera work superb, effects all that could be expected of a big-budget, modern film.

This review took more than two minutes, I know. I plead delay and too much to say. I could even go on, but I won't. In short, this film is worth a rental and worth the time to view.

Four smiles Smiley Smiley Smiley Smiley
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Re: TWO MINUTE REVIEWS: Les Miserables the Movie
Reply #1 - Aug 28th, 2014, 12:12am
Great review! I'll have to add it to my list.
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