Les Mis

Les Mis

Warning, if you haven’t seen the movie this post may contain spoilers.

Jackie and I went to see Les Mis yesterday, and both thoroughly enjoyed it…mostly.

I saw the original production in London quite a few times, and the cast album has been on my phone forever, so numbers from it come up in my usual random playlist fairly regularly. Jackie has never seen the stage version, but has heard the cast recording. Jackie loved the movie, I was impressed but was not as blown away as she was.

The movie has taken the unusual route of recording the actors singing live for each take (rather than the usual pre-record and lipsync), they wore hidden earpieces so they could listen to a live piano accompanist and the orchestral score was added later. This brings a new level of acting to the songs that is wonderful and intimate, but for me almost too intimate.

There is also a disconnect between the voices and the music that is subtle but annoying, I don’t know if it’s to do with the mix or what, but there was no connection between the actors and the orchestra- I know this is probably because I’m comparing it to the stage version and it’s not what they were trying to achieve here, but it bothered me, like an itch, all the way through.

And added to this was the fact that almost the entire movie was shot in EXTREME CLOSE-UP with the actors faces almost filling the screen most of the time. This double-whammy of the raw emotion of the songs and the fact that you could count the the beard stubble of the actors (for example) was too much for me- while I have to applaud the performance of Anne Hathaway singing I Dreamed a Dream (she has totally raised the bar for any and all Fantines to come), I really didn’t need to see her nose running as she sang it!

I think this was my main problem with it, I missed the spectacle I remembered from the stage show. The extreme close-ups became annoying as I constantly wanted the camera to pull back and show me more- I felt like I was sitting too close to the screen at an iMax movie.

The individual performances were mostly great- Jackman, Hathaway and Redmayne were very good, Amanda Seyfried as Cossette was a wonderful surprise, but the standouts, for me, were Samantha Barks as Eponine and Daniel Huttlestone as Gavroche (a smallish part but one that can make or break the stage show- I remember seeing one fantastic Gavroche on stage and one awful one that spoiled the whole evening for me).

Russell Crowe was OK, just OK. He sang fine, looked the part, but I really couldn’t have cared less when he killed himself, and that moment should be gut-wrenching as you see the awful confusion of a man whose whole life’s meaning has been ripped apart. And while he is very good at this kind of thing (though a little held back in this performance), I have to say I’m getting a little bored with Sacha Baron Cohen getting all of these kind of parts- it’s time to let someone else have a turn (and the same could be said for Helena Bonham Carter).

So, don’t let me put you off- reading back I realise that it looks like I didn’t like it at all- I did- it is a wonderful version of the musical with many good points, I’m just being picky (don’t get me started on the huge, obviously fake, ship at the beginning that would have dragged all those puny little figures out to sea in a heartbeat). Go see it and let me know what you think 🙂

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