Sunday, December 30, 2012

One Word: Beautiful

I have seen the 2012 adaptation of one of my favorite musicals, Les Misérables (which is based on the book by Victor Hugo), and the one word I would choose to describe it as, is beautiful.  I know, "beautiful" may not be the word that comes to mind for some people when they think of this film, if they have seen it.  It's very gritty, and is a painful reminder of the darker side of life.  The story of Les Misérables lifts the veil on the harsh reality of the have-nots.  That's why it's named Les Misérables; it tells the story of the miserable.  

This film was so emotionally intense I felt stressed after having seen it.  The emotions the actors and actresses displayed were so powerful and felt so real, it had an emotionally draining effect upon the audience.  I really liked the look and style of this film.  I felt as if I were watching the theatrical musical on screen.  I also felt as if I had gone back in time, as if I were really in Paris.  There was quite a lot of atmosphere, and there was definitely a sense of heightened realism there.  

I loved the casting choices, for the most part *cough* Russell Crowe *cough* *cough*.  I would say Anne Hathaway's performance as Fantine and Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean are oscar worthy performances.  They really gave it their all.  Everyone, well...practically everyone (Russell Crowe, I am looking at you) gave it their all, really.  It was fantastic.  Yes, there were some things that could have been handled a bit better, like the CGI.  I won't pretend that this film hasn't any faults.  For example, the "shaky cam" worked brilliantly for some scenes, but not for every scene it was used.  Not all of the dutch angles were necessary.  They could have used more sweeping shots of Paris, too.  There were a lot of close-up scenes, but I was fine with them.  I liked how they just let the camera roll, letting the actor or actress act to their full potential.  It was very powerful.  The decision for the actors and actresses to sing live was brilliant.  That was an excellent decision.  They decided to experiment, and in my opinion, the experiment was successful.  Live performances are so much more powerful, so much more in the moment.  Another thing I liked were the scenes in which Javert was walking on the edge of the building upon which he was singing.  I thought that was quite brilliant.  Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham-Carter were great as Thénardier and Madame Thénardier.  They really brought the film to life whenever they were on screen.  I liked Amanda Seyfried as Cosette, too.  Some people don't like her singing, and think she has strange vibrato.  I actually really liked her singing.  It was pretty, and girlish, which is how Cosette's singing ought to sound, I think.  Eddie Redmayne as Marius also did a great job in portraying his role.  I think he was a good choice to play Marius.    

This film did not disappoint me.  For the most part, ahem Russell Crowe.  I describe this film as beautiful, because of how artistic it looks, and how real it feels.  One particularly beautiful, no, not beautiful, gorgeous scene was in the beginning, when Jean Valjean tears the yellow ticket-of-leave, and pieces of the ticket float up into the air with the sweeping music in the background.  I think that was one of my favorite scenes.

Now for Russell Crowe as Javert.  Was he really the only actor they could have chosen to play Javert?  Really?  I don't understand.  Oh well, I guess I shouldn't be so hard on him.  Still, I wish they could have cast Javert differently.  He did not display much emotion, and his singing was pretty mono-tone.  Javert is supposed to have enough passion that he hunts a man for stealing a loaf of bread.  That's how obsessive he is capable of being.  The Javert that I see when I look at Russell Crowe, is not passionate enough to be able to be that obsessive.    

Anyway, enough of all the Russell Crowe bashing.  I guess when I'm watching the film I say to myself in my mind, "Hey, he's not so bad as everyone is saying".  Then I go and listen to my favorite portrayal of Javert, Philip Quast from the 10th anniversary of Les Misérables, and I realize how mediocre Russell Crowe is as Javert.  

Any.  Way.  What did I think of the film overall?  I thought it was excellent!  I was impressed by how different it felt, and how emotional it was.  I nearly cried three times throughout the film.  My friend's older sister said she cried when she went to see it.  I am definitely going to buy this film on DVD when I can, so I can watch it again and again.  

Update:  I forgot to mention how good Isabelle Allen as the young Cosette and Daniel Huttlestone as Gavroche were.  Both the young Eponine and the grown-up Eponine were good, as well.  Basically, everyone was good.  It was a good movie.  A really good movie.  Except the people sitting behind my friend and I kept kicking the back of our seats.  I told my friend about it afterwards, and she said that they had kicked the back of her seat as well.  Kicking seats aside, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing this movie.  


  1. I loved this version so much that I saw it twice in the theater and sobbed my way through it both times. It was so powerful and you're right, just beautiful.

    1. The ending always makes me come close to crying. The emotion builds up throughout the movie so much, that when the ending arrives, it feels like all the emotion just pours out. It's an absolutely gorgeous film.