Movie Review: Les Miserables (2012)
I went and saw this with a friend recently, and my overall general feeling in leaving the theater was of being underwhelmed. While beautifully filmed, with excellent acting by most of the cast, I was expecting a little more talking not realizing Les Mis is a sung-through musical. Perhaps it comes across differently on a stage, but the constant singing as scenes change, wasn’t all that impressive. Less so when certain people were singing. :coughRussellCrowecough:: And while I sat through three hours of The Hobbit without noting the time, I only got through about half of Les Mis before I was squirming.
I haven’t ever seen the musical on stage, so perhaps some of the magic of the show was lost on me. But I have read the book and the over dramatic teary-eyed singing at every turn lost part of the power of the story for me. The politics were squashed to the background for dewy-eyed lovers singing in ranges that were too high for their voices. I enjoyed Anne Hathaway (I’m quite disturbed by everyone’s fixation on her weight loss. Why is this the conversation about her performance? It is disheartening). Her performance was exquisite, and per the course of the story, ended all too soon. However, I disliked the portrayal of her de-evolution. I thought it was gaudy and went for laugh rather than the truth of the situation. I think it is much more heart wrenching in the book for being played straight. I thought Aaron Tveit, who played Enjolras, had the best voice and liked listening to him sing. But I thought Samatha Barks was the best at acting while she sang. She played the part exactly as I imagined it while reading the book (now many years ago). Some of her struggles were a little washed over for being sung as part of a montage (her changing into a boy to be near Marius, for example), but I was pleased with her portrayal.
Maybe it was due to the fact that I was expecting some talking and acting in between songs that the story was disjointed for me. I got tired of listening to every line in melody and wished that everything wasn’t either overly dramatic or comical. There is a lot more to this story than just a pair of lovers who got to be together for everyone else’s sacrifices. Some of the singing was well done, and some of it was not. The acting was fairly good, but some of it was not. For something that heavily relies on the music to tell the story (i.e. it is all sung), I expected the singing to be a little more exceptional than it was. I understand that the characters all sang their parts as they acted them, and that must have been hard, but I walked away underwhelmed by the movie.