Film Review: Les Miserables
I was anticipating this movie for a long time, I loved the musical and saw it multiple times. I bought the album and learned the lyrics to nearly all the songs. I was a pretty big fan of the show, and I still am. So naturally, I will be dismissed as a fan whose opinion isn’t going to matter because I’m going to be too forgiving. So many reviews have stated that the initiated will love it, but those who aren’t won’t. So I guess that explains why five uninitiated members of my family loved it once we left.
Admittedly they probably didn’t love it as much as me, but they still loved it. My mother saying it is the best she has seen from 2012. It is at this point where I kind of want to argue that critics sometimes are to absorbed by their own craft to enjoy a film. I won’t go down that road though, but I thoroughly believe this is one of the many films that will go down in history with A Sound of Music, Forrest Gump, Gladiator ect. that critics got wrong..
Now, about the movie, I loved it. Of course I did though, I was already a fan. But that made me more scared going in than anything, what if they screwed up the musical that I loved? I heard songs were cut down, some even removed, and some added. It was scary for myself, and other fans across the internet. But I was so impressed by everything in this film. The shots aren’t conventional, but they work. Unconventional things in film scare critics in the same way ambition scares them.
In film school, I was told that we have to follow the rules of filmmaking when it comes to developing shots and which shots to cut to in the editing process. You have to shoot with the final edit in mind. Jump cuts, for example are illegal, but there is a proper way to do it. We were told to follow the rules of filmmaking, and once we know the rules we can break them.
Les Miserables was a special case, considering it was a sung-through musical with very little spoken dialogue. Some songs would span throughout three different scenes. The editing is chastised much less than the cinematography. Hooper is using his wide-angle lenses that he is known for, and some pretty intense close-ups. I had heard about these shots and did notice them when I saw the film. They worked, for me at least. I saw absolutely no fault in the cinematography and editing, and for those condemning it I ask, how would you do it differently?
So that’s my opinion on the editing and cinematography, let’s talk about the acting. Hathaway is brilliant, that is something everyone can agree on. Her one-shot I Dreamed a Dream sequence is nothing short of perfect craft. Since I predict the awards, I couldn’t believe that Sally Field has a chance to beat Anne Hathaway. Filed is fantastic in Lincoln when she is on screen she owns it, but Hathaway’s role of Fantine is devastating and real, a role that requires an emotional range that not many actors would be capable of pulling off, Hathaway nails it.
Jackman is fantastic, the perfect Jean Valjean. Any year that Lewis wasn’t playing Lincoln the Oscar would be his. If he is not nominated (which can happen if Les Miserables is shut out) it will be a terrible injustice. Samantha Barks is new to cinemas stepping off Broadway, but is also devastatingly brilliant. Eddie Redmayne is spectacular. Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Boham Carter are hysterical, I didn’t think Master of the House would ever be funny to me again, hearing it and seeing so many times on stage, but it was.
Seyfried is great as Cosette and owns her final scenes. Now, I want to talk about Russell Crowe. I thought he was perfect. Someone called him the Pierce Brosnan of Les Mis, but there is no Pierce Brosnan of this film (Mama Mia reference). Crowe sold me when he hit the low note in the Confrontation perfectly. His rendition of Stars and his final soliloquy were so beautiful and visually stunning. Crowe matches the character of Javert from his misguided values to his stern appearance. One of his best performances since Gladiator or A Beautiful Mind.
Everything is gorgeous, the sets, the makeup and everything. I loved this movie, and as a fan of the musical I thought it was the perfect adaptation. I plan to see this movie many times, and I’m glad it is doing so well in the box office and that other people now have a chance to connect with the epic story. Is it bombastic? It’s a musical, you do the math. It’s a big big film with a lot to say and a lot of emotion to express, it wouldn’t have worked if the music was bad, but the music is amazing and performed perfectly.
Final Score: 5/5