Les Miserables - Is the film any good?
Date: 10 January 2013
The film version of the hit musical may have 9 BAFTA noms and received 8 Oscar nods, but is it any good? Les Miserables opens nationwide in the UK tomorrow following its U.S debut on Christmas Day. I was lucky enough to see it on holiday at Christmas in California.
Firstly - the film has retained the emotion and intensity that has made people fall in love with the stage version. I have seen the show 3 times now and all I will say is that it does not really offer you anything new - if you are a fan already. As for newcomers, I'm not quite convinced it's always clear what's happening and when as there is too much narrative to pack in.
The performances on the whole are excellent. It's true Russell Crowe is out of his depth vocally but he does a good job in the acting department - as you would expect. Hugh Jackman does well as Valjean and manages to make him look less fatherly than we are used to seeing. Anne Hathaway should bag an Oscar, as she steals the film, but don't write off Sally Field as she gives a blinding performance in Lincoln. Amanda Seyfried warbles like a canary trapped under a brick as Cosette but as a friend said - the character is irritating anyway. Eddie Redmayne is brilliant and very stoic, yet naive - perfect. It's Samantha Barks, though who puts many of these Hollywood stars to shame, as she is totally mesmerising as Eponine.
The film cannot escape it's stage origins as many of the scenes are obviously on a sound stage and I never really felt that I was in France. But, overall the grit and blood, sweat and tears that you associate with Victor Hugo's tale is there in abundance.
The live singing works for those that can but those that can't (look away Maximus) - it puts a spotlight on this fact and becomes irritating. Helena Bonham Carter plays Mrs Lovett again and like then, vocally is incredibly reedy and I hated her performance. But the audience I was with loved her.
The elements that will leave you begging for more are the things you already know - the epic story, the wonderfully drawn characters, the well known songs and sweeping score which provide pure, full on emotion. With a four star review from Empire, it seems this could be the film musical that wins over non-converts. It's better than the film version of Phantom by miles and on a par with Evita. With many screenings this weekend already sold out, you better book though, or you might end up bringing yourself home again.
- by Glenn Meads
Any opinions expressed above do not represent the view of Whatsonstage.com nor any of its staff or contributors beyond the bylined author.
|Glenn has covered the Manchester theatre scene for Whatsonstage.com since 2001. Since then he has edited whatsonstage.com/manchester and he currently edits the North West site, as well as providing news, reviews, features and competitions.|
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|The simple answer to the headline is that it is very good indeed, but anyone expecting to see the stage show on screen might be slightly disappointed. Tom Hooper has succeeded brilliantly in translating Hugo's vast novel and manges to fill in some of the gaps which can't be done on stage. Film musicals can often appear totally artificial but again Hooper avoids that pitfall not only with the actors singing live but in a more conversational style which seems far more natural. What you miss are the rousing anthems that bring such an emotional response in the theatre, particularly for One Day More, but emphasises that these are two completely different mediums. Hugh Jackman is outstanding, Anne Hathaway lives up to the hype and there are superb performances throughout, including Amanda Seyfried who is much better than the trailers suggest. However, there is a major problem in the disastrous performance of Russell Crowe as Javert who has none of the righteous fanatcism required and, bluntly, cannot sing to save his life - Stars is a very sad abomination. Samantha Barks is a brilliant and touching Eponine and proves that this film does not need big name stars so it is such a shame that nobody had the guts to realise that Crowe simply coudn't cut it in such a pivotal role. Despite that this is a film that will demand repeat viewings but a return to the stage show is also essential for the full impact of this wonderful score. - David Baxter||13 Jan 13|
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