Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,
Today I present for your consideration the very interesting Les Miserables (2012, Rated PG-13, Available on DVD).
The Hurricane and I saw the trailer for Les Miserables back in December when Hurricane whirled and twirled and insisted I must see Lincoln on a big screen (she was right). The trailer caught our eyes and tempted us, but I'm glad we didn't succumb. This movie is long and has so much going on that I think I would have been uncomfortable in a movie theater seat (as opposed to the theater seats in my family room), without the ability to pause the movie for a water and potty break, and my eyes would have started to ache from all the light and commotion on the big screen.
Why don't long movies have intermissions the way they did when I was a kid? Is it because people are more easily distracted now, and don't mind taking their eyes off the screen in order to buy a soda? I don't want to miss a single minute of a movie that's at all likable.
But, ah, I digress.
Although reactions to this movie seem to be mixed, I'm glad I watched the DVD, and I'm grateful that Lovely Rita from SoulComfort's Corner told me not to see any other versions of Les Miserables first. She said that a better rendition of the movie would ruin the most current edition for me. I rarely disagree with Lovely Rita.
Based on the novel by Victor Hugo, Les Miserables features Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), who has served many years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister's starving child. At the beginning of the movie, he's released and decides to break parole so he can begin life anew. After Jean Valjean becomes a mayor and successful businessman, he adopts Cosette (Amanda Seyfried), and raises her as his own child when her mother, Fantine (Anne Hathaway), dies, but he is always aware of the hunt for him conducted by Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe).
At first, I felt overwhelmed by the non-stop singing in this movie. Very few words are spoken. But then I started to enjoy it. I recognized a couple of the songs, and enjoyed many I'd never heard before, especially the raunchy and amusing "Master of the House," sung by the Thenadiers (Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter). I felt particularly impressed by the work of the children in the film, including Daniel Huttlestone as Gavroche.
It seems to me to be an overwhelming task to have the actors sing live instead of recording their songs and lip synching them as is usually done for musicals, so Les Mis represents a remarkable achievement. Russell Crowe is the one weak link in the movie. His voice isn't quite up to the task, and he doesn't give off the air of malicious authority that Javert should have. I'm not an Amanda Seyfriend fan, but she's okay. Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway are very good. Hathaway deserved her Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for managing to look so gaunt and ravaged and for sobbing while singing. I'm a big Helena Bonham Carter fan, so I was happy to see her in a part.
I give Les Miserables The Janie Junebug Seal of Approval. I don't think it's appropriate for children, what with prostitutes and thieves and killings. I have no idea if it would interest teens. You know your kids. I don't. I think it would be worthwhile for teenagers to watch it if it helps them develop compassion.
Now, having said all that, a couple of weeks after I watched the DVD, I watched The 25th Anniversary of Les Miserables In Concert, recorded on PBS by my close personal friend, DVR. Oi! Was I amazed. The quality of the singing was so much higher. It increased my respect for the music, and made me long to see a Broadway-quality production of the show.
I haven't yet watched any other movie version of Les Mis, but I look forward to seeing some. The DVD of Les Miserables definitely piqued my interest.
Happy Movie Watching!
Infinities of love,