Sunday, January 20, 2013

Date Night Movie Review - Les Miserables

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Right off, I'll tell you that I loved Les Miserable, so expect some gushing. I never knew much about the musical until Susan Boyle won the British Xfactor with the song. I heard it from a musical based on a 19th century book by Victor Hugo and lost much interest. After watching, I'm kicking myself. What the actors brought to the screen was amazing, Fantine's suffering, different kinds of love - given, taken, and unrequited, revolution, passionate people dying for their beliefs, the works!

Les Miserables at its core is a story of good versus evil, on a personal, individual and national scale. We get to ask ourselves, can an evil man become good? How can a good man be so hateful? At what point do we forgive? How much gray do we have between Black and White, and what is the use of walking the straight and narrow line without love?

Javert (played by Russell Crowe) could not let down his duty toward Valjean (Hugh Jackman) even though he sees as over the years the ex-criminal transforms his life. For him, an officer of the law – there is no gray, the law must be upheld by all means. A couple of times in the movie, he walks the edge of a precipice secure in uprightness. When he is forced to consider other attributes to life, it is the most difficult thing for him.

His is just one of the great performances in the movie. Hugh Jackman was also powerful and convincing, Anne Hathaway brought me to tears just over 30mins into the movie. The best voice belongs to Samantha Barks who sang Eponine of the unrequited love fame. The other actors also brought their A-game to the singing, some better than others.

In the end, the movie combines the music with the story in such an affecting manner, you are moved into their world, you feel Fantine and Eponine's pain, you hope with the revolutionaries, hear the joy of the young lovers, touch Javert's conflict, and be a part of Valjean's redemption.

My only problem with the movie? The editing at the beginning was a bit too stacatto for me, and if not for that, this would have got a 4.5 instead of 4 stars - Myne

I'm not really a musicals fan, but I think that I've progressed from a time where I thought that combining acting and singing was just plain nonsense. So I was favourably disposed to going to see Les Miserables, especially because it was a historical movie set in 19th century France (I mentioned in my 'Lincoln' review that I was a fan of this kind of film) and because Myne was very keen to see it.

So, we went, and it ended up being an enjoyable, enthralling experience. There were several stories woven together, including the compelling story of two opposites - Jean Valjean, the ex-convict who rediscovers himself due to an act of kindness, and Inspector Javert, the inflexibly moral upholder of the law who seeks to bring Valjean to justice. I found both characters intriguing, because they both had in them a mix of admirable and not-so-admirable traits, and I was fascinated to see how their contest would play out in the end.

But it wasn't just the story that I liked. The musical performances were memorable in a way that they might not have been if I had been watching a live musical, because they were delivered in the actual setting. I liked that the tunes of many of the songs were very similar to each other; this help to create a unified experience in watching the movie. At first, I didn't quite like that every single phrase was sung, but this grew on me in the end.

I was going to give Les Miserables 3.5 at the time I left the theatre, but those songs reverberating in my head have persuaded me to make it a 4. They've certainly made me see why people watch musicals again and again - Atala


  1. There was a time when actors shined,
    When their voices were aloft,
    And their singing, inviting.
    There was a time when the audience wasn’t deaf (or blind),
    And the screen had songs
    And the way the songs sung, exciting.
    There was a time,
    Then it all went wrong.

    I’ve seen the scene that Anne won by,
    Where she tried
    But life was missing.
    I screamed that Crowe would just die;
    I dreamed that Hugh could be forgiven.
    Then I was bummed, for twenty I paid;
    My dough and time they stole and I wasted.
    There’s no refund I’m afraid,
    For songs ill-sung by names profitably pasted.

    “But the actors sing it live!”
    The media voices yelled with thunder,
    As publicists play their part,
    As they turn their screams to shame.

    DVD’s coming this summer for fans to buy,
    To fill their days with anxious wonder:
    “Is this really better than live?”
    But his cash was gone when autumn came.

    And still I dream plays on screen are good to see,
    That stage and film can mesh together.
    But there are dreams that cannot be,
    Good actors don’t mean the singing’s better.

    And singing is a musical’s reason to be,
    So different from that hell that I was watching.
    No different now from what it seemed,
    This flick has killed me with the scenes I’d seen.

  2. OMG Anon, your review in song is the bomb! Got me laughing and remembering Fantine too. Too bad you didn't really like the show :)

    1. Myne!! I'm roaring with laughter here. Anonymous is Awesome!! s/he must have been really pained.

      On a personal note, I can't believe the similarities in our review. I boned to read your review till I wrote mine so I can compare. Awesome!!

      like Atala, the songs are on replay iny head. I don't care what Broadway fans say jare. lets agree to disagree.

      next review - Cloud Atlas

  3. Just read Anon's poem again. S/he killed it. lol!

    1. S/he really did, I was mad impressed. I smiled as I read your own review, as you said, it's a straight forward story, with very plain themes. And I'm sure you'll like Cloud Atlas too :)


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