So the thing with Les MisÃ©rables is that this isnâ€™t one of those groundbreaking once in a lifetime movies. In fact, I am willing to bet that this wonâ€™t even be the last visual representation of this story. Les MisÃ©rables or Le Miz as everyone including myself has come to know it by, is one of those stories that will be told again and again and again. Every generation will have their Le Miz spectacle so the question is how did this one do, will is stand the test of time and be “the one” all others are compared to or will it just sit there among the ranks of the other musical turned films of the last four decades? I think the latter. Here is the thing, this isnâ€™t a sweeping epic or the movie of the century, its not. There is only one scene in the entire film that I would call “must see” (we will get to that in a moment) so most of the film just sits there.
Itâ€™s a fine representation of the story, of which I was familiar with prior to seeing the film, and only has one major offence however large that offence might be. The direction of this tale was true to form but didnâ€™t push any sort of envelope in the way of storytelling. Not to say that every motion picture must question how movies are made and be the , as much as I hate to say it, latest Avatar but I do think that big movies, the blockbusters or ones thought of as such, should give the audience more than just a regurgitation of a story we have seen time and time again. That said, Tom Hooper did bring something new to way musicals are made for the screen. In Le Miz, much of the singing is done on set, not dubbed in later. You can tell this is happening by some of the really intense solo scene where Hooper just focuses on one actor and has them literally sing their heart out (of course I am again referencing one seen in particular that we still must wait to talk about but later). This new take on how musicals are shot is refreshing and I am in agreement that it yields a better performance form the actors.
Speaking of actors, this is both Le Mizes biggest flaw and crowning achievement. Most of the actors were fine, Jackman, Seyfried and the lot do a fine job as the miserable citizens of 19th century France. I use the term fine on purpose, they didnâ€™t blow me away yet they didnâ€™t make me cringe in fear unlike the other two billed names did. Crowe, dear Russell Crowe. Why oh why Mr. Crowe did you take a role that required you to sing the ENTIRE movie? Why? Did someone lie to you and tell you your voice was like a songbird bursting from its egg or did you just simply say to yourself ‘hey, I havenâ€™t done a musical yet, let me get a part in one of the most famous and hard to sing musicals of all time’? Whatever the case it was a mistake. Crowe is a good actor, I really enjoy watching him when he is talking but the moment he opens his mouth to sing he brings the film down so much that people in the theater start to adjust themselves and think of getting popcorn or going to the bathroom in hopes that this ear bleeding scene will be over by the time they come back. Seriously, Crowe is the worst part of this film, he simply cannot sing at all and it painful to hear, and see for that matter, him struggling to hit the notes. This is one of those “sing-talking” musicals so there is not actual dialogue. The actors sing 99% of the time and Crowe has a big part so the audience is subjected to his out on tone, old man, open throat singing voice for near three hours. I am sorry to say that casting Crowe in a musical was the absolute worst decision Hooper made and it turned his film from being rather good and perhaps worthy of a full price viewing to me seriously contemplating telling the masses to miss it and save themselves the aggravation.
However, I will not leave you on such a sour note and as promised, there is one thing about this film that out shines even the worst note of Crowes songs. Anne Hathaway, beautiful Anne Hathaway is absolutely amazing in this film. Amazing. I cannot say this enough. Anne Hathaway single handedly saves this film from going into the tone-deaf ground. She can sing, she can act she can do anything. I found myself in love with her the moment she stepped on screen. Even though she is playing the part of a poor broken down forced prostitute, she still looks amazing. Even though she shaves her head for the role, on film mind you, she still is elegant and charming. Now we have all seen the trailer, you know the one where the only music is Hathaway sobbing out the bars of “I Dreamed a Dream” and everyone watching was engulfed in it? Well my friends if you thought seeing a few clips and hearing a few notes of that stirred your sole let me tell you with all my heart that Anne Hathaway has outdone herself. That scene is one of the most powerful scenes I have ever seen. Reminiscent of Moniqueâ€™s last scene in Precious or Jenifer Hudsonâ€™s academy award-winning song in Dream Girls (hint hint academy) Hathaway blows everyone and everything out of the water, silences the theater and commands nothing but un challenged attention and moderation. I think Hooper saw what he had with Hathaway so filmed this scene oh so subtly and it worked. It is just Hathaway alone singing this iconic song. One word describes this, flawless; this scene is beautiful and flawless. Watching this, I was taken out of the theater and was sitting in a room with just Hathaway and myself as she ripped my heart out and showed it to me with her words. This performance will truly will be one of “those” performances that should and will be remembered for years to come.
So aside from my infatuation with Anne, the rest of the film was there mostly being dragged down by Crowe. With all these things in mind, I give Le Miz a matinee viewing. Crowe is bad and should be avoided at almost all costs but Hathaway is just so good, for the 20 minuets she is in the movie that she is worth a good ten dollars for a ticket and three hours of your day. A word of advice if I may; go see it to watch Hathaway blow your mind and then leave. Catch the rest of the story on netflicks.