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Les MisÚrables Reviews

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Wildaly M

Super Reviewer

January 10, 2013
I just can't seem to get into this. The close-ups are just too much and somehow singing in this movie does not enthrall me at all. The way this was done did not translate well into film.
Apeneck F

Super Reviewer

September 21, 2013
Well, certainly an epic undertaking, seemingly an attempt to kick opera back to life as nearly every line is sung, and that's what you need to know first: its all singing, oy. Its a gargantuan story who's bottomline's about looking on the bright side of life (Monty Python succinctly made the same point in about 3 minutes ...) howbeit with very high production values, phenomenal sets and costumes, a full orchestra and a cast of thousands, all as a bread thief is hounded by some droll official - for his entire life. (What, was there no other crime going on in France at that time more worthy of attention? Or I underestimate the value of bread to the French? Maybe it was really good bread? "And tonite on the news ... the monstrous bread thief is still at large!") Anyway, shaky cam and CGI cannot make up for the underlying problem: nearly every line is sung. I was tired of the conceit early on and only wished for them to stop it, stop singing. No one did. Jackman carries the sucker practically on his own and does surprisingly better than you think he will, while Crowe's presence is okay, and Hathaway does well with her short time onscreen. Carter and Cohen yuck it up as the comic relief. Who are the rest of these people and what are they doing? They're singing.
puffchunk
puffchunk

Super Reviewer

August 20, 2013
Way too long and slow with a bit more singing than necessary, but overall it was gorgeous and full of amazing acting. There are several songs too that really captured my heart.
Jason Lalljee
Jason Lalljee

Super Reviewer

December 15, 2012
Production is top-notch, as is the acting, scenery, and music- but it has its flaws. It's far too long, and I would've enjoyed it much better had each song been cut in half. Hooper's framework is gorgeous, but distracting and a bit dizzying. Props to Anne Hathway, who steals the show, and the rest of the class is in top form, too (except for Russell Crowe. It's been said again and again, but please take singing lessons). Unambiguous metaphorical resonances aside, it's an ambitious, sweeping, heartbreaking work of grandeur that almost feels like something truly special. 7.5/10
skactopus
skactopus

Super Reviewer

May 12, 2013
Despite a strong story, Tom Hooper's Les Miserables is a disappointing movie rendition.The film runs 2 and a half hours and yes, it feels that long. Nearly every line of dialogue is sung, which makes it a challenge to get a grasp of the story, even though it is popular enough as it is.The set and costume designs are nicely done; however, it isn't embraced fully because of the constant closeups of the characters singing. On the subject of singing, it has its ups and downs. This isn't a surprise given the long runtime.Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, and Samantha Barks are highlights. Sacha Baron Cohen and Helna Bonham Carter are a bit awkward. Russell Crowe is absolute garbage and he sings a lot. What a waste.Les Miserables has a high production value, but on delivery, it isn't as good as it sounds.
Lanning :

Super Reviewer

May 4, 2013
When I rented the Les Miserables DVD, I thought that was the title of the movie. Turns out it was a description of the audience. I want to be entertained when I see a movie. I don't mean it has to be funny. I mean I want it to be engrossing. I want to feel like I've been absorbed into the film. Like time has stood still, place evaporates, and space has collapsed into the movie and me. Chinatown comes to mind. Another one is Casablanca. And The Sting is a classic example. For me, Russell Crowe is the star of the show. A great singing villain. He is the only one, for me, whose singing almost mirrored a stream of consciousness -- not just singing, but thinking his singing, if that makes sense.
Samuel Riley
Samuel Riley

Super Reviewer

February 6, 2013
I'll admit being highly skeptical about the superb musical masterpiece being adapted onto the screen. However, I felt that it'll be interesting to see how loyal they keep the film to the show. Even after leaving the cinema, I kept on debating whether I enjoyed it or not. While I really many aspects of the film, it was the choice of actors/actresses that got to me. For me, Hugh Jackman's performance of Jean Valjean really stood out for me, I was constantly gripped with every scene, from his moments of anger and despair, to his highlights of singing. I felt even though Russell Crowe wasn't the best choice for the notorious Javert, to me, he eventually picks himself up with later songs. The biggest hit and miss I found for this film was Anne Hathaway. I had read up that she was the big highlight of the film. Even though I didn't see what made her performance stand out, it didn't stop Hathaway from presenting a relatively strong character for Fantine. Even though 'Les Miserables' may have a dragging length to it, I'm glad it did its best in keeping to the original musical.
It may not be the film for you, however, on the minimum, to me, the it's worth watching for Jackman's powerful yet possibly Oscar worthy portrayal.
Josh M

Super Reviewer

April 20, 2013
Les Miserables is an long, mostly entertaining, over the top, melodramatic mess. Of course, it is very openly a melodrama, as per its source material of Victor Hugo's massive novel, but it falls down by cranking up the emotional volume to '11' (as per Spinal Tap) and never pulling it any lower than 9. I like the stage musical, but seeing realistic and gritty sets with hand held endless closeups of actors and their tonsils emoting their pain takes a toll on a viewer. Somehow in theater, it worked much better and had more levels and moods.

I may be the only doubter on the radical approach that director Tom Hooper took, by having the actors sing live to camera, but the tuneful songs are mostly undermined by screeching and Russell Crowe's vocal limitations. Though this approach works nicely for Ann Hathaway's Oscar moment in the sun, 'I Dreamed a Dream' which is an intimate song of despair, it mostly doesn't work for the rest of the musical material. It particularly does Hugh Jackman, a terrific singer normally, a disservice, where he shrieks unpleasantly much of the time, as his character is in pain for all three of the film's hours.

The entire cast, including Crowe (singing aside), acquit themselves admirably for the most part and are well cast. Though Sasha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham-Carter's Thenardiers are very over the top in the baggy pants vaudeville of their comic relief, they are a welcome break from the earnest howling and gushing tears. Hathaway, who has no much more than twenty minutes screen time, deserved her Oscar, and Jackman pulls off noble and selfless as well as anyone out there, vocal screeches aside.

The film looks great from a production design point of view, but I hate how it was shot by Hooper, with way too many closeups and needless jerky handheld camera. I imagine he thought he was updating the creaky movie musical style for the new millennium, but it failed, at least here.

The songs are melodic in the spirit of Oliver!, but the lyrics are unsubtle and 'on the nose' and always were. So is the film style. This is one instance where I think the director needed to take a different approach from the source material, rather than being too faithful. For example it didn't have to be 'sung through', there could have been some spoken dialogue, giving the songs more weight. There also could have been a more intimate approach with some scenes, and the chorus numbers were awkwardly staged for realism, which is impossible, it might have been better if they stood and delivered to the movie audience and broken the 'third wall'. I realize Hooper did not want to alienate the devoted fans.

Still, it's worthwhile and interesting to see the approach that was taken to put this beloved musical on film, there's a lot of talent here. Les Miserables can be effective if you put your helmet on to prevent the whole thing beating you over the head with its bombastic style and take it for the overly rich, often nausea inducing French pastry that it is.
Sam B

Super Reviewer

November 26, 2012
This long-winded theatre adaptation has spotty musical quality and strange storytelling shifts (like a whole group of main characters introduced halfway through), but it also has a great cast (not to mention great-looking), and an epic scope that feels at home up on the big screen.
Matt G

Super Reviewer

January 12, 2013
Beautiful, majestic picture. Russell Crowe is one intimidating Javert. His rendition of "The Confrontation" alongside Hugh Jackman was poetic and masterfully done. "Red & Black / ABC Cafe" was also wonderful.
Lafe F

Super Reviewer

February 4, 2013
The performers did a wonderful job with their touching vocals. The director sorta ruined the spectacle with his choice of shaky handheld shots and abundance of closeups of peoples' faces! How about more establishing shots of the historic settings? And what was with the ship scene at the beginning of the film? I expect the convicts to be working hard labor in a hot field with pickaxes. Tom Hooper, you shouldn't be changing classic things just because you have the Director's Chair.
Christian C

Super Reviewer

March 29, 2013
Fantastic music and awesome costumes. Visually rich. I bought the CD and have listened nonstop! The only drawback is the actors were chosen for acting skills -- clearly, not for singing skills. Crowe sounds like a hoarse horse and Hugh Jackman's...well...he sounds old. Surprisingly strong performance from Radmayne! Anne Hatahaway can do no wrong.
Matthew Samuel M

Super Reviewer

December 23, 2012
The film is long, tiring, and a bit melodramatic. But it is still very powerful, moving, and beautiful, and features fantastic performances. While the singing can sound strained at times, the raw emotions the film captures result in several thrilling and tear-jerking scenes. Anne Hathaway's performance of "I Dreamed a Dream" lives up to and exceeds the hype. She is quite remarkable, and deserved the Oscar. The ending of the film was also notably powerful and quite uplifting. Despite its flaws, the film does give you goosebumps at times and gets right to your heart.
Al S

Super Reviewer

December 29, 2012
An instant classic. A breathtaking and visually stunning marvel of a production. A tremendously powerful and truly unforgettable film achievement that soars on emotion and tragedy and is filled with astonishing music and set pieces. A spectacular masterpiece of an epic. Director, Tom Hooper crafts a truly absorbing and incredible piece of work filled with love, dedication and ferocious beauty. Hooper has topped his other masterwork, The King's Speech with this gorgeous delight. It's simply one of greatest musical films that has ever been maid. One of the top five best pictures of 2012. A joyous, heartfelt and deeply moving movie. The performances are beyond brilliant. Hugh Jackman gives thunderous and truly magnificent movie star performance, he shows his most demanding and dedicated work so far on the screen. Jackman has never been better, he deserves every award you can think of, he literally carries the film on his shoulders with his commanding performances. Russell Crowe is absolutely outstanding. Anne Hathaway is extraordinary, she gives a breathtaking performance. Hathaway, Crowe and Jackman give some of the best performances of their careers in this film. Amanda Seyfried is remarkable. Seyfried shows she is becoming a better actress the older she gets. Eddie Redmayne is a revelation. From start to finish, this movie with enthrall you and tug on your heart.
Carlos M

Super Reviewer

February 20, 2013
It is impossible to care about a heavy-handed melodrama full of flat characters endlessly singing and crying their misery for nearly three hours non-stop. Besides, Hooper's direction is extremely amateurish and inept, with the camera appearing to be held by an epileptic.
thmtsang
thmtsang

Super Reviewer

July 15, 2012
Very moving musical about a man on the run. He turns good and respectable only to have his new life jeopardised by an old acquaintance. Hugh and Russell are great. Who knew Russell could sing so well. Very dashing in uniform.
Alice S

Super Reviewer

January 30, 2013
So...Les Mis. I can't say I'm terribly fond of the story beyond Act I. Cosette is the boringest character ever. Why does a revolutionary like Marius fall for this vapid bougie girl? Eponine is a pretty thankless role in that Marius is a little sad that she died, but he isn't thankful for her sacrificing herself to save his life, nor does her death reaffirm his faith in his cause. He just marries Cosette, and everyone's happy.

Tom Hooper achieved a great feat with the live-singing. The performances are indeed rawer and more visceral than the glamorous belting of Broadway. My boy Hugh Jackman captures Valjean's repentence and compassion. He is a great singer, but I didn't think he was exceptional, probably because the character has so many songs that by the end, the performance felt repetitive.

Anne Hathaway will melt your face off in "I Dreamed a Dream." She even acts through the instrumentals. I take a bit of pride in knowing she could sing ever since I saw "Ella Enchanted." Her acting in the non-singing scenes is a little frantic and melodramatic, but that one song is award-worthy in itself.

I really dig Eddie Redmayne as Marius. He's got this ugly-sexy face and Kermitty singing voice that makes a somewhat one-dimensional character less of a pretty-boy ponce. "Empty Chairs and Empty Tables" is blisteringly painful, if a bit deja vu-ey after so many "raw and visceral" interpretations. Aaron Tveit has a magnificent voice, and I have come to really just like the role of Enjolras.

Samantha Barks (of the 25th Anniversary Concert, so you pretty much already know she can belt) is beautiful and full of longing, but she only has a handful facial expressions - all good, just lacking in variety. I'm not a fan of Amanda Seyfried, but she does what she can with the boringest character. I found her soprano a bit tinny though. And well, Russell Crowe. He can carry a tune...but not very far. He sings too much in his mouth instead of in his throat and diaphragm.
Paulo G

Super Reviewer

November 23, 2012
Detailed review to follow.
Bill D 2007
Bill D 2007

Super Reviewer

January 26, 2013
Some sublime moments, particularly whenever Anne Hathaway and Amanda Seyfried are on-screen. And awesome final sequence. Very spiritual.

Great comedy from Sacha Baron Cohen.

But lots of flat moments in the middle that had me snoozing. I couldn't wait for the 1848 revolutionaries all to be shot so that they would just shut up. Rarely have I seen revolution depicted in so vapid a way. What were they fighting for exactly?

Fuller review to come later.
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