I know I may be late to the party on this one but I finally watched Les Misérables, 2012 edition, and thought, hmm, I sort of want to review this. So here I am, doing what I want with my life. Let me start out by saying that overall, I enjoyed the aesthetic of the film. It was lush with gorgeous sets and lavish costumes that helped me immerse myself in the film, however, where the movie succeeded in the visuals, it failed in character development and singing (ahem Hugh Jackman and Russel Crowe). The entire time I was watching the film, I kept questioning why Javert was so very intent on believing Jean Valjean was an evil person, even though the only crime he could be blamed for was stealing bread. For his sister’s kid. It’s kind of ridiculous if you think about it. So I did some research and I believe that this was not a problem in the book. I mean it was a similar problem between the two characters but in the literary counterpart, it was executed better.
A lady named Suzanne from booktalk describes the sentiments I would have, had I read the book, quite accurately. She says,”The most important aspect that is lost in the movie, but rich in the novel is the representation of the two main characters, Jean Valjean, and Javert. Although the novel is lengthy, the most poignant and memorable passages come at the very end. I would go so far as to say the whole meaning of the novel comes down to a couple hundred pages. Both Jean Valjean and Javert have a decision to make. These decisions are agonizing for both characters. Victor Hugo goes into considerable length describing the decision making process both characters go through. This process, and what the ramifications the characters face determining which path to follow is unfortunately lost in the movie. One song cannot replace 100 pages of narration. I don’t know if it is possible to truly understand the character of Javert by watching a movie. And since the characters of Jean Valjean and Javert are so closely linked, the magnitude of awe which occurs towards the end of the novel is not present in the movie.”
Arguably this is a problem in a lot of book to movie adaptations but it was particularly underwhelming in such a high scale film with big name talents and a mountain of high expectations.
Other characters I didn’t think were developed as well as they could have been were Marius and Cosette. You all know I am NOT a fan of love at first sight and guess what these two lovebirds do? Well, they go ahead and fall in love at first sight. Literally!
I just couldn’t watch it without flinching little but I said to myself, hey, this story isn’t strictly about them, forgive that flaw and enjoy the rest. After all there were other characters to focus on, other story lines to develop such as that of the French Revolution, but wait a minute… I guess it was actually about the June Rebellion. That event, folks, took place many decades after the French Revolution and it wasn’t made very clear to me in the movie. I’ve heard it said Tom Hooper, the director of the film himself wasn’t quite enlightened about that matter.
Maybe that would also explain why some characters had English accents amidst all the Frenchness?
With all that said, I do think that the character of Eponine was amazing. Out of everyone in the movie, she was my favorite. Though I do wish there was less of this:
And more of this:
Because I would very definitely ship Eponine and Enjorlas!
This brings us to the final topic I wanted to brush upon in this review and that is the music. I admit, it was brave to make the entire film a “live” musical without a single word of spoken dialogue. I commend the filmmakers for their originality but if I’m being honest, sometimes it got on my nerves, especially when the singing was a quite a bit more cringe-worthy than necessary. A lot of the songs melded together and I couldn’t discern where one ended and another began. I know the real life singing was a gimmick of the film but it fell short for me when some of the actors started to sing. I agree with Marni Nixon, the 82-year-old Hollywood musicals veteran, when she says that “Jackman wasn’t a bad singer, just miscast. Acting-wise he was wonderful, but could have done with a nobler voice. Crowe, on the other hand, was nothing. It wasn’t that he was choosing to sing like that, he just couldn’t do anything else.”
Also is it just me or did some of the lyrics sound as if they were made up on the spot? Seriously, try singing this in a very abrupt but somewhat melodic manner and you’ll know what half of the movie sounded like to me.
Javert: I’m here. I’m looking for him. A piece of bread, he stole from the world.
Jean Valjean: Go away, Javert. It was just a piece of bread. And don’t you have more evil criminals to catch?
Javert: Be quiet, 94601. You’re evil and your time has come to pay the law.
However, despite all my complaining about the movie’s flaws, Le Mis provided me with an enjoyable viewing experience, which can’t be said for a lot of movies I see nowadays. The ending was relatively happy, for a movie where *SPOILER ALERT* almost everybody ends up dead. And also little Gavroche was pretty darn awesome.
Vive la France!
Now, don’t you think Eponine and Enjorlas should have gotten a chance at HEA? Yes or no, comment below.
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