While the singing and performances were incredible, the movie suffered from being overstuffed with too many songs. It needed to tighten up it’s story and reduce it’s length.

Les Miserables

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Barks, Helena Bohem Carter, Sascha Baron Cohen

Premise: After being in prison for 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread, Jean Valjean is released into the world. He evades parole much to the chagrin of Inspector Javert and becomes a respected Mayor providing jobs for the townspeople. When one of his workers, Fantine is fired from the factory she is forced into prostitution in order to provide for her child, Cosette. Ultimately she dies in Valjean’s arms. Feeling responsible for her death, he vows to care for her daughter, leaving her wanting for nothing. As Cosette grows up, helping Valjean evade Javert, she finds herself falling in love with a boy around town, Marius.

 

My Review: Les Miserables is unlike any film you’ll see this year, that being said. It’s not without its flaws. While the A-list cast gives incredible and memorable performances, the movie suffered from being WAY too long. There are many movies released this month that have a run time over 2 ½ hours: The Hobbit, Django Unchained, Zero Dark Thirty, This is 40, and at 2 hours and 38 minutes, Les Miz felt much, much longer. I felt like it could stand to lose 2-3 songs. Especially since it was all singing with barely any actual words spoken. Because this movie was so LONG, I found myself getting distracted and my brain wandering off on weird tangents. Like, seriously, how tiny is Samantha Barks waist?? If you don’t believe me click here. That corset makes her waist look smaller than her head. So. Tiny. And every time she was on screen I kept waiting to see that wide shot of her with the tiny tiny waist. Weird, I know.

That aside, I felt director Tom Hooper made some very wise decisions in showcasing the talents of his cast. First of all many of the solos were single takes, the camera never leaving the actors face and in fact getting closer and closer exposing all the vulnerabilities. In fact some actors got so vulnerable and the camera got so close, it was almost as if I could reach out and give them a hug. (I’m looking at you Eddie Redmayne. I will hug you.) Second, the actors were singing “live” nothing dubbed. Actual voices allowing slight emotional imperfections. How some of those actors managed to hold their tune will sobbing is something I will never figure out. The result is breathtaking, leaving you with the urge to give the actor a standing ovation once the song is over. Anne Hathaway’s rendition of “I Dreamed A Dream” was so hauntingly gorgeous, I held my breath all throughout the song. And she killed it. She was giving that song her all, and you can tell. In that moment, she wasn’t Anne Hathaway singing really really well, she was Fantine, a prostitute that was doing awful things to herself in order to provide a better life for her daughter. It’s a must see moment and a moment I will remember for a long time. I wish there was more of her in the movie because she really was outstanding, and definitely deserves the Oscar for Supporting Actress. No contest.

Another noteworthy performance was Samantha “Tiny Waist” Barks, who played Eponine. New to the movie industry but not to the role of Eponine, Barks is fresh faced, doe-eyed, and lovely with absolutely flawless singing chops. She brings a much needed feisty-ness to the movie that comes as a breath of fresh air. Her rendition of “On My Own,” in my opinion the most well-known song from Les Miz, was fantastic. Eddie Redmayne had some great moments. Especially with his song “Empty Chairs At Empty Tables”. Again, I am amazed how actors can sing so impeccably, while openly weeping. Also, boy has range.

Hugh Jackman, our lead as Jean Valjean, had the difficult task of holding up the movie. Valjean’s suffering was evident throughout the movie and Jackman was able to portray ever emotion perfectly. While his facial expressions while singing weren’t always the best (maybe it was the camera angle but I felt like I was looking directly into his mouth at his tongue for a lot of his songs), but his voice was comforting and smooth. He gave the movie a little extra something committing fully to the role. He was strong, but also vulnerable and sympatheic, everything you want for someone carrying a movie. His final moments on screen were heartbreaking, proving he did Jean Valjean justice.

In fact, with this excellent cast (including Helena Bohem-Carter and Sascha Baron Cohen as comedic relief), the only misfit was Russell Crowe. Though not as good of a singer as the rest of the cast, his voice is still beautiful and mellow. He just seemed a bit out of place for me.

Les Miz is not a perfect movie, but the individual performances by its cast members were incredible and epic. Cut a few songs, tighten up the plot and Les Mis could have been a serious contender for landing in the top 5. I’m a sucker for a good musical, but this was no Sound Of Music. That being said, see this movie for Anne Hathaway’s performance alone.

 

Rating: 3 ½ Stars

(would have been 4 if not for the length. It gets deducted half a point for making my butt hurt!)

 

 

 

 

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Comments
  1. Carol King says:

    I just saw Les Mis and enjoyed your review very much. I’d seen the Broadway production a number of times and loved it, but I don’t think it really translates to a movie. I agree a song or two could have been cut even though I love the score.

    I, too, could NOT believe the size of Samantha Barks’ waist and once she appeared on screen I was pretty much totally distracted by it.

    There is another very funny review in the New Yorker. If you’re interested, I can send you the link.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Agree with most of what was said, except for the part of the length, and songs. It was a movie based off a musical, what did you expect? Of course there was going to be very little spoken, (if there was to be some spoken parts in the first place), so I feel that the movie was very well done, and have no qualms about it having too many songs, and no speaking. Rent anyone?

  3. Gracie says:

    It is all song because it is a musical turned movie. What do you expect? Also, even on movie posters it said, “Musical Phenomenom.” The actors and actresses express their feeling through song that’s what makes it so great.

    • I guess I was expecting more of a Sound of Music, Moulin Rouge, Chicago, etc kind of situation. With songs mixed in with dialogue to break it up a bit. I knew there would be songs and singing which I LOVE. Just didn’t know it would be 99% singing.

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