Les Mis(sables)

The Good, the bad, and the Ugly

The Good, the bad, and the Ugly

To begin with, I never saw the Broadway musical upon which this movie is based, so my discussion of it is based solely on the movie, with some surviving memories of Victor Hugo’s novel.

The movie had some problems which detracted from my enjoyment. Most particularly, it is startling to have a film shot almost entirely in close-up. I know the scene is, for the most part, fairly gritty; but I am more familiar with the dermatological issues of some rather well-known cast members as Hugh Jackman (Jean Valjean), Russell Crowe (Javert), Anne Hathaway (Fantine), and Amanda Seyfried (the grown-up Cosette) than I ever wanted to be. Gad, I would hate to see my face plastered across eighty feet of screen at a cinema.

A second issue I had with Les Misérables was that it was 100% sung. Now I don’t mind that with a great opera, but with a musical—especially one that runs almost three hours—I would appreciate some plain spoken lines. Especially when most of the people in the cast would scarcely last more than thirty seconds in a grand opera audition.

Finally, most of the film consists of night scenes. There is something about a color film that demands more light: Otherwise everything begins to look brown after a while.

Some of the supporting roles were excellent, especially Sacha Baron Cohen (?!) and Helena Bonham Carter as the thieving Thénardiers. In the Revolution of 1832 scenes, there was a superb child actor, Daniel Huttlestone, playing the part of the urchin Gavroche. And the ending actually brought some tears to my eyes, as sentimental and overblown as it was.

All in all, Les Misérables is a mixed bag. You may enjoy it, or you can just as easily mis [sic] it.