Les Miserables is a movie well made. It’s replete with superb actors. It’s a work of genius. And, I love musicals.
Half of this movie bored me. Midway through the 2 ½ hours, I found myself checking my watch to see how much longer it would last.
I feel a sense guilt for criticizing the film because it has received so many rave reviews, therefore, it must be me.
Here’s the good:
Anne Hathaway. Better than good. Her greatest triumph as an actress ever and who knew she could sing? Hands down, she should win the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. That’s right, “supporting” because she only plays a small role in the early part of the film. But it is powerful. Her rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” will be a classic for all time. Chilling. Stunning. Emotionally wracking. It was far beyond a song, it was an acting/musical performance extraordinaire. Sadly, she didn’t play enough in the movie.
Hugh Jackman may be nominated for an Oscar as well, though I doubt he will win. He performed and sang wonderfully throughout. Jackman dominated the story as the paroled French prisoner who violates parole and is stalked by the French Inspector played by Russell Crowe. Crowe (who also sings in a rock band) sings surprisingly well through some difficult music, though it’s obvious he is not the operatic quality we’d find on Broadway.
Here’s the not-so-good:
Too much non-melodic musical dialogue. Not a work is spoken, all dialogue is sung. This added to the boredom for this writer. This is no Phantom of the Opera or Carousel where one song after another is musical rapture. There are only three, maybe four, songs in the 2 ½ hours which are melodic and beautifully musical.
The entire setting is early 19th century Paris. Yet every actor had an English accent. Something incongruent about that, especially for people who prefer some degree of authenticity. One male child actor had a distinct Limey London accent. This might not bother most, but it was a stand-out to me as a no-no in the streets of France.
Too much hurling and throwing the camera around, hand-held, herky-jerky photography.
One critic, Catherine Shoard of The Guardian, wrote: “the experience of sitting through all 160 minutes of Les Mis can feel less like an awards bash than an epic wake, at which the band is always playing and women forever wailing. By the end, you feel like a piñata: beaten, in pieces, the victim of prolonged assault by killer pipe.”
To be fair, this is an epic movie which was complicated to make and difficult to assemble both musically and technically. The director, Tom Hooper, is an amazingly proficient movie maker. But as musicals go, this doesn’t stand up to the giants like “Chicago” and “Phantom.”
I give it a 7.