A Review of Les Miserablés From Someone Who Has Not Seen the Film

I have not seen the new film Les Miserablés.  I just wanted to point that out right away.  However it seems as though almost all of my friends on Facebook have seen it, and they all have very strong opinions.  The weird thing is though, that half of them are warning everyone who will listen that to see this movie is to see a steaming hunk of a soul destroying travesty, to mix a metaphor, while the other half are commanding their friends to see it right away, because they laughed, they cried, everyone in the cast will win an Oscar, and it was WAY better than Cats.

Here are some anonymous samples of what my Facebook friends are saying (which I don’t feel bad about reposting because, well, they posted them on Facebook):

The movie version of Les Miserablés was an interesting battle of terrible singing between Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman. I’m pretty sure Crowe wins.

Les Mis has been my favorite Broadway musical for a long time…I think I’ve seen it about 10 times on Broadway. So, whenever anyone does anything to it, I’m immediately nervous. That said, the movie is really well done. Cast was great (w/ the only potential exception being Russell Crowe, but they did scale the songs down to him so it’s not awful). Colm Wilkinson is also in it as the bishop, so that’s pretty cool. Two thumbs up! Totally worth the money!

I am completely confident that I could have sung Javert better than Russell Crowe did. What a disappointment.

I was shocked at how much I enjoyed Les Miserables. Important to remember it’s a movie, not a Broadway show and the two cannot possibly be identical, nor should they. Other than Russell Crowe, I was very moved and had chills multiple times. (Well, the part of Cosette is vanilla no matter who plays it I think.)  I’ve heard Valjean sung better, but I’ve never seen it acted better. I thought Anne Hathaway was amazing. I was shocked.

Those who can sing…sing.  Those who can’t are Wolverine!

I didn’t notice the dragging as I expected it to be about an hour longer…though that might have been the time that I was like, this is going quicker than I expected compared to the two non-musical movie versions I own which are just soooo boring.

How can this be?  I have never been more curiously cautious about a movie in my entire life.  On the one hand, if it is truly as amazing as 50% of my friends are saying, I don’t want to miss out!  But then again, I have two young children and don’t get to see many movies these days.  If this movie is as bad as the other half says, I don’t want to waste one of my six films a year on it.  What to do?!

Well, I’ll tell you what I did.  I read all of the Facebook posts from all of my friends and was able to draw some conclusions about the film, without actually having seen it.  So here is what I think about the film.

The movie features a lot of close-ups of people’s faces.  If you like that sort of thing, you will probably enjoy it.  The lovers say it adds a sense of intimacy that you could never get at a live theater show, while the haters say it takes away some of the sense of epic grandeur that the show is supposed to impart.  So really, it’s just a matter of personal preference.  If you like your Victor Hugo epic, you may be disappointed, and if you like it intimate, you will cry for three hours straight, but in a mostly good way.

In an unusual move for movie musicals, they actually recorded the singing while the actors were acting.  Normally they just record the songs first and then have the actors lip synch over them while they are filming.  What this does is remove some of the “studio magic” from the singing.  You get a vocal performance that is more raw, and more flawed.  What this also apparently does is, enhances the acting and the feel of the scene, but makes the music distractingly not good, at least to my friends, the majority of whom are professional musicians.

What everyone can agree on is that Russell Crowe is not good at singing.  The question is, does his acting more than make up for that fact, or is he just such a bad singer that his whole inclusion in the film is inexcusable?  Again, I think that is a matter of personal preference.  I have listened to some of the music on Spotify, and I see what people are saying about the singing.  It is not perfect, from any of them really.  Whether I would notice that while being swept up in the drama of watching the scene, I can’t say for sure.  But knowing myself, I would probably notice it.

So in the end, all I can figure is that people have really strong feelings about this show, and from what I have deduced from reading on Facebook, if you care more about the music than the acting you will come away disappointed, but if you are seeing it for the expressions on the actors’ faces and the moments of heartbreaking drama, you are going to love this movie.  I know that this is a broad generalization, so feel free to disagree with me in the comments, and bear in mind that I haven’t actually seen it so I don’t really know what I am talking about.  But from what I have heard, I might just wait for the DVD.  You can decide for yourself.

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Posted in Les Miserables, Movies, Music, Reviews.

One Comment

  1. Oh I’m so excited to have a place to put this! This is what one of my friend’s posted on fb:
    “LES MIIIIIIIZZZZZZZ!ooooo ok ok ok ooooo I was NOT ready! Ok so no shade but 1) Russell Crowe honey breathe boo,from the diaphragm 2) Amanda Seyfried-pretty and good on the tops of them harmonies.that is all…BUT Ann Hathaway honey! That heffa sang her FACE on ‘dreamed a dream’ ACT! She was giving you face, grief, tuberculosis, dirt…Hugh Jackman-Oscar worthy from scene one! Honey I promise that man must have been writing up that good good acceptance speech on his dinner breaks.and speaking of food that cast came cheap cuz ain’t none of them ate since the nineties judging by the snatchedness.woo lawd somebody was on that baby food diet, but back to Hugh.if I could have thrown a shoe…and that’s all imma say about that.See it!”

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