Wednesday, January 16, 2013


MOVIE REVIEW - Les Misérables



Hugh Jackman

Anne Hathaway

Russell Crowe

There were many versions of Les Miserables over the past few decades But the most famous and what people call the definitive version of Les Miserables is the Musical version. But then hollywood were able to get their hands on this property and promised a movie-ized version of the highly-acclaimed broadway musical. Many were excited, Many feared that it would be horrendous. But with a huge cast of talented people came on board with a very talented director, many have changed their minds, and many continues to anticipate this film. And now we finally have it, gracing our silver screens.

This is based on a book that is later adapted to a play/musical that is very highly (I mean highly) acclaimed by critics and audience alike over the past few decades. It is centered around; Jean Valjean a criminal who was able to break parole after serving many years in prison to do so, as he escapes he wishes to turn his life around as he runs away from his past life. Years later, he meets this woman and vows to take care of his daughter for her. But his past continues to follow his trails as Javert returns to hunt him down. 

I have always been familiar with the musical since i was very young since my music teacher would show us various musical works like Sound of Music, Wizard of Oz and Les Miserables. That being said, I have been anticipating on Les Misérables ever since i have heard that the musical is being adapted into a film. When I first saw the trailer of Anne Hathaway's interpretation of the classic "I Dreamed A Dream" just blew me away and made me shed a manly tear. But to be perfectly honest, I was not a very big fan of musicals. Probably because I don't see a lot of musicals in the theater (because they are very expensive), But I still love some musicals (besides some works from Andrew-Lloyd Webber), I thoroughly enjoy them. But the main reason why that i was anticipating on this movie (even if I am not a big fan of musicals) is because of utter curiosity and seeing this as a very ambitious film from the start because of the director, the actors and the fact that the actors give out a really raw performance like how actors in musicals do (had to say it again, that trailer pretty much made this movie look like a musical with an epic scale). Now that i have watched it, I definitely enjoyed this movie; I thought that this is a beautiful and engaging film. That's saying a lot for a guy like me, who is not a very big fan of musicals/movies like this. 

Of all the musical-turned-to-movies that i have seen in the past this is probably different out of all them. It had that cinematic feel to it, but it never loses its musical feel. By musical feel i mean by how the actors are filmed when they are singing and acting, (director) Tom Hooper does these close-up facial shots a lot in his past movies and it fits very well in a movie like this and what made it work with it is how the director let's these people sing live on set than lip-syncing (in their pre-recorded voices), though there were many shots that are very distracting. You can see it on their face, you can hear it from their voices that they are really singing naturally, every emotion they give out has a huge amount of effectiveness to you like how real musical actors give out in a live musical. Usually in adaptations, there’d be changes. Re-watching the concert of Les Miserables a month before seeing this film, I can tell in this movie that they changed a lot of the lyrics; they cut a few lines of the songs that is necessary, at some songs it works but in some songs it felt rushed a little bit and also they cut out a few songs. They also added a new song which is “Suddenly” I thought that the song was added in the movie very well, it was added in the right time and it really illustrated the tender and kind side of Jean Valjean very well. The performances in this movie were just incredible to see in the big screen with surround sound (200 pesos well spent). Do keep in mind though, this is not your everyday musical, since (say) 99% of the dialogue in this movie are being sung, word by word (and if not it’d be a second of vocal break) usually there’d be a huge gap of spoken dialogue and it’d be a set-up to another song. But here it felt like the movie never stopped for a break and when they do it's a 15-second break. Also to keep in mind is that this is a rather lengthy film with a huge cast of characters to develop (almost 3 hours, this movie is). At some point the movie flew by faster than you thought and then it would drastically slow down up to the point that the last half felt very rushed with its development. If I would have a complaint about this movie it would be that.

Speaking of performances, the performances are a really big deal in this movie. Each and every one of the actors gave their all in this movie through singing and acting (though one actor can only handle 1 out of the 2 things I mentioned and I will go to that later on). Tom Hooper knows how to direct actors very well up to the point that the actors deliver such an effective performance (Again, taking an example from the King’s Speech). Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway were the ones who really stood out to me in the entire film and yet this is probably their best performance yet. Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean is a joy to see this character brought to life again in the silver screen. I’ve always thought that he is a very good stage performer and actor over the past years, when I heard that he is playing Jean Valjean, it was a very big surprise to me hearing the news that he is casted as that character. Anne Hathaway was definitely the one that stood out in the singing department, because when you hear her sing “I Dreamed a Dream”… Wow….  I’m no Simon Cowell to judge someone’s singing, because I’m not very good at judging singers and music in general. But going back, Anne Hathaway brought a very strong presence as she sings in this movie, the amount of emotion she brought in both her acting and singing performance is just incredible to watch. Russell Crowe is probably the mixed bag of the movie, Acting-wise he is very good as usual but Singing-Wise… Eh…. Russell Crowe’s singing is like the first time watching a movie in 3D, it takes some time to adjust until you get used to it and starts to look (in this case, sound) good for you. He was fine in the movie, he delivered a good enough singing performance in a few songs. Then again it could’ve been worst for the guy like Pierce Brosnan in Mama Mia. I’m not really going to go into detail with the others since this is a huge cast. I thought Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter were able to deliver hilarious and entertaining performances every time they are on-screen. Samantha Barks, this movie is definitely her breakthrough performance (even if she is the same character from the concert version), she also delivered a powerful performance as well,  Aaron Tveit, Eddie Redmayne and Amanda Seyfried are great as well and in the end. In the end the cast delivered powerful performances from start to finish.

In conclusion, i enjoyed this movie very much this movie is the definitive movie-musical experience to me, Its a musical with epic proportions, It is enjoyable it is entertaining, and it is very well done. Director Tom Hooper and the cast did a tremendous job delivering this movie, each and every one of the cast delivered such a powerful performance that you may leave the theater with your eyes bawled because of how attached to these very engaging characters, the writing and the way they envisioned the movie through the visuals (again) really felt like a broadway musical that has come to life in the big screen, the set pieces are immaculate to look at. The writing made you believe that these people are at their lowest low, you root for the heroes, laugh at the comedic timing, and brood for the villain. The movie did feel rushed, the movie did dragged but still Les Miserables is a great film nonetheless. Not only does it deserve your money but also your standing ovation (which the audience in the theater I was in surprisingly did). Fans of the musical will definitely love this movie, If you don't like musicals at all this movie may or may not change your mind about them.



4.5/5 – SO CLOSE! (FOR THE WIN!)

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