Billy's Film Reviews.

A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!

Les Misérables – 2012

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A disclaimer to begin proceedings: yes, around 98% of dialogue in “Les Misérables” is sung, and it runs for nearly 3 hours. Prepare yourself.

It is a shame to learn that people were seen walking out of the cinema a couple of years ago when “Les Misérables” hit our screens. It may be distracting and at points off-putting to some, however, “Les Misérables” is an example of how well a novel can transform into a stage production and furthermore into a film.

One of the most well known stories in literature, “Les Misérables” has been tackled time and time again, in countless medium forms. The tale of love, loss, rebellion, revolution and patriotism, “Les Misérables” (the 2012 filmic version) is an expertly shot, brilliantly crafted epic that pays respect to the original source material.

Jean Valjean and CosetteStarring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway amongst other big names, the film is full of highly commendable performances from both a dramatical and vocal viewpoint. Singing directly to camera as opposed to utilising post-production ADR, “Les Misérables” generates a true feeling and atmosphere similar to that of a stage production/musical.
The scale of it all, mixed with vibrancy, tragedy and profound passion increases the drama above all else and it is a true credit to the creators.

Hugh Jackman has had his fair run on the stage as well as the screen, and is no stranger to the life of a vocalist. His performance as Jean Valjean is excellent and it is obvious that he is more than comfortable with performing in any role given to him.
Anne Hathaway is without a doubt the most surprising element in the film. Not only are her acting efforts remarkable, her singing voice is staggering good.
Her tragic story is one of the film’s strongest factors and it has earned a newfound respect from many of her critics.

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From a structural point of view, “Les Misérables” is designed and crafted uniquely and creatively. Director Tom Hooper brings the similar look of his past work “The King’s Speech” to “Les Misérables”, especially through framing.
Placing heads in bottom corners is a feature that has been commonly picked up with Hooper, and it once again works very well in his latest musical epic.
Continuing with elements that work exceptionally well within the film, the extended takes within some of the musical’s most well-known numbers (particularly ‘I Dreamed a Dream’) add so much power and rawness to the scene and the journey overall.

Russell Crowe has his critics regarding his performance as Javert. His singing voice has been the primary reasoning for the criticism, however it really isn’t too bad. Crowe not only tries his darnedest, he succeeds quite well.
It is a credit to Crowe that he undertook the role, as demanding and open to scepticism as it may be, but Crowe (with his experience of singing in a rock band) obviously had enough self belief to hold his own.

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Musicals may not be everyones cup of tea, particularly grandiose epics such as “Les Misérables”; but even the longest, most extravagant and gargantuan pieces are capable of surprising even the toughest of critics. Bold, ambitious and spectacular, “Les Misérables” was emotional, captivating and very well crafted. Fans of the stage production will approve greatly! (not that they wouldn’t have already seen it…)

4/5

Recommended By Alise Dolly

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2 comments on “Les Misérables – 2012

  1. Noemie
    August 11, 2014

    So! I’m sorry but I have to disagree with you haha.

    First: Have you read the book(s)? I read them (was divided in 3 parts) when I was 8 or 9 and I still remember well the story. This is NOT what I call a good book adaptation!
    Then, ok they say this is clearly adapted from the musical (adapted from the book) and not the book itself…well that’s not a reason for me to say it’s a good movie anyway:
    TOO much singing. I like musicals, really but the songs are not good, most of the actors don’t sing well at all (I love Eddie Redmayne and Russel Crowe but please stop singing…please). I’ve never seen the musical but I don’t get why they gave Jean Valjean’s character to Hugh Jackman ?? Good actor, good singer but…it just doesn’t fit! Same for Javert…
    Then if you want to pretend that the movie takes place in France…I understand that they speak in English but please when you pronounce French words or names…try to do it well!
    Many american actors can speak French with a better accent and would not be worse at singing…(John Malkovitch – who already played Javert in another adaptation, Jodie Foster, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Bradley Cooper…)
    I gave a 2.5 and I was in a very good mood. Only for Anne Hathaway and the effort they put in the movie…

    When you’re a French movie lover, you tend to go on the website “Allociné” wich is more or less the French IMDB. The critics (from professionals and from viewers) are usually the same on both Allocine and IMDB. But that’s funny how big is the difference when you compare them on “Les misérables”:

    IMDB: 63/100 (Professionals) – 7.7/10 (viewers)
    Allocine: 2.3/5 – 3.2/5

    I think it says it all. Don’t mess up with a French masterpiece 😉

    • wmsteele
      August 11, 2014

      Haha well there you go!
      I guess it’s a cultural thing. Totally agree with what you’re staying about the English speaking crossover. It says a lot about Hollywood I guess!
      As I said in the comments on Facebook, I have had absolutely no prior association with Les Mis and am not really a fan of musicals (I did LOVE Sweeney Todd though…)
      So my review is more or less about my experience of this – an ignorant, general and uninformed viewpoint in a way haha!

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