Movie: Les Miserables
My Rating: 3 stars
I also went and saw this movie in the theater while visiting home for the holidays. I wanted to see it more out of curiosity than anything else, because I’ve never seen the play or read the book, and people seem to go pretty bananas for those. Also, the movie studio was running a pretty aggressive advertising campaign, wasn’t it? I’m pretty sure that factored into my decision somehow. And, I’m glad I went to see this movie. I was kinda feeling left out since everyone else already seemed pretty familiar with the story. But man, was it long! And, the story is insanely depressing. It’s one of those films where just about everyone dies by the end. But, I guess that was pretty much par for the course in nineteenth century France what with all it’s crushing poverty and all the revolutionary activities going on at the time.
I think this movie did a pretty good job with the material. The costumes are pretty great, and I really liked the sets. The movie does have a few very lovely, sweeping landscape shots, but I’m pretty sure that the majority of the scenes were filmed on a sound stage. But my biggest complaint is that, I’m not the biggest fan of having most of the plot sung to me. A few well-placed musical numbers are one thing. But, I didn’t enjoy the pages and pages of sung exposition. Heck! I don’t even like that kind of thing when it’s regular dialogue. So, the sing-songy version was pretty tedious. And, it made the movie feel really really long. The conventional rule of storytelling in the movies is that it’s better to show than to tell. But, I guess that sort of visual or action-based storytelling isn’t always possible with a play, so all the characters spell out their actions and motives very clearly and in meticulous detail through the magic of song. It’s more than a little clunky, and it had me checking my watch every half hour or so.
At least most of the actors are very good singers. Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, and Amanda Seyfried are wonderful vocalists as usual. But, Russell Crowe seemed a little in over his head. He was definitely pushing up against the limits of his range. And, I didn’t care for Eddie Redmayne’s singing voice either. I can’t quite put my finger on it but something about it made me cringe. Maybe I found it a little over-emotional. Fans of the story should definitely check out this movie. With the limitations on what you can show on a stage, I can imagine that it’d be great to finally see the tale set in a pretty realistic looking nineteenth century France. But, I don’t necessarily think you have to rush out and see it in the theater. This stuff will keep pretty well on DVD. And since the movie feels much longer than it actually is, you might as well watch it in the comfort of your own home.