Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Les Miserables

SF: The first hour or so was brilliant. The production value is fantastic  a great blend of cinematography but also excellent staging. The whole film is sung, so I expected this to get tiring rather quickly but on the whole it worked very well. As I've never seen any production of Les Mis before but I was very impressed. Hugh Jackman leaves nothing out when delivering his songs and acting-wise he does a most convincing job, I really felt Jean Valjean's despair. Anne Hathway's rendition of "I dreamed a dream" was the most moving scene of the entire film, I almost cried.
The second half of the film was hard work. I found it unengaging and very very long. The only character that stood out was Éponine who I felt didn't get enough focus. While Russel Crowe can carry a tune he is woefully poor compared to the other singers in this film, also I found Javert's demise a bit random. Helena Bonham Carter is playing the same role she has been for years and Amanda Seyfried wasn't particularly interesting. One surprise, who knew Eddie Redmayne had a good voice? He still scares me though. Also a few things get confused towards the end, too plot holes that annoyed me. I would have loved this if I'd stopped watching after the first part and even though I got bored, it remains a very good film. 7/10   

Donkey B: I am not a musicals person, I don't like them. I don't like the idea of them. I haven't seen the stage play, but I have read the book, although it was a long time ago.

First the bad. As SF has said the entire film is sung and I have to say I found it wearing. Russell Crowe's singing isn't all bad, but some of it is. The base material of the novel is terrific, but I found that the constant singing undermined the pretty serious themes of the book, the film is also staggeringly a-historical (history nerd alert) for a historical film. This may be a problem imported from the musical, but the fact that the film was set in post-Napoleonic France seemed only to offer a few more words to help make rhymes in the libretto, whereas in the book the constantly changing political and historical backdrop is almost a character in itself. The fact that Paris at one point becomes Dickensian London, right down to "cor-blimey g'vner" mockney artful dodger types, is I fear just the most obvious example of the film's contemptuously lazy interaction with its period and setting.

Having said all that, Anne Hathaway's performance of the Dream song is spectacular, it is also a very clever piece of directing, representative of Tom Hooper's approach to the whole film; the entire song is performed in extreme close-up, focusing on the extremely emotional performance. Obviously this is something which even the people in the front row of a theatrical production couldn't experience- and goes some way towards answering the question, "what can a film do which is different to the stage production?"

The film is spectacular but I think it is winning people over more by brow beating them into submission than by genuine quality. I suspect if you like musicals you'll love it.

50 Eggs: There's not a lot I can add here that hasn't already been said by SF and Donkey B. But it’s hard for me to review this anyway as, it transpires, I just don't get musicals. It probably not very cultured of me to say that I didn’t think the songs were very catchey. And I'm definitely missing the point when I say that I felt half the film could have been spoken, that the characters were often singing words for the hell of it. But alas that is how I feel. There were some striking visuals though, so 5/10

Overall: 5.8/10

No comments: