Sunday, January 6, 2013

My Les Miserables review

Our fourth wedding anniversary is on Thursday so Sean and I celebrated early with a trip to the movies today. Even though he would've much rather seen a showing of Lincoln, my wonderful husband knew that I had been so eagerly anticipating the new Les Mis for months and suggested we go.

Now a little background: I've been a huge fan of Les Miserables since my sister first introduced me to the PBS presentation of the 10th anniversary special featuring Colm Wilkinson, the original Valjean, in 1996.   At age thirteen my grandmother took me to New York City to see the musical live and I was absolutely blown away.  I've been in love since.

I will readily admit that I am a complete snob when it comes to the arts.  I am a trained pianist, vocalist, and photographer and it is hard for me not to pass judgement whenever I hear a singer sing a note off-key or I see a photo that is not completely in focus.  With that being said I went into this movie not expecting to be blown away.

If I had to rate the movie I would give it about 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Here's why: When I am shooting a macro video in manual mode on my Nikon, I constantly have to adjust the focus whenever my subject moves forwards or away from the camera.  Although there were some really incredible scenes in Les Mis, a bulk majority of the time the camera angle was zoomed in on the actors' faces and was constantly switching in and out of focus.  For 2 hours and 37 minutes.  I'm sure most people wouldn't notice this aspect of the movie, but as a photographer I couldn't not focus on the focus.

There is something so vibrant about the orchestra in the musical that was lacking in the movie.  The accompaniment was barely audible for most of it--which I guess is more suitable for a movie--but I felt like the music was almost lost in the background.  The actors also seemed to be behind and not singing with the music.

I thought everyone was pretty incredible--most notably Hugh Jackman (Valjean), Anne Hathaway (Fantine), Eddie Redmayne (Marius), and Samantha Barks (Eponine).  There were scenes in the movie that absolutely took my breath away.  The emotion was raw and real and unglorified.

They weren't all stellar.  Amanda Seyfried (Cosette) is usually one of my favorite actresses, but she has the absolute worst vibrato and the reviews about Russell Crowe (Javert) being a terrible singer were almost accurate, I didn't think he was as awful as everyone has been saying but instead of drawing out the music in those long heavy drawls in that deep Javert bass voice, Russell shortened every line and was rarely with the music.

I would definitely suggest going to see Les Mis, even if it wasn't perfect, because the movie almost needed to be flawed to correctly represent Victor Hugo's vision and it is definitely worthy of representing such a legacy.

As for Sean, I think he ended up enjoying himself.  He said he liked the fight scenes enough.  We were the youngest in the audience by about thirty years and Sean was one of about six men in the theater, but I guess that happens when you catch a Sunday matinee.  We splurged on nachos and candy and soda and cuddled the whole time.  We had an absolute lovely date together although I think I will wait until after we have this baby before I attempt to sit for another two-hour movie.

Oh!  And I almost forgot!  Colm Wilkinson (the original Valjean) is in the movie as the bishop!  I'm a huge fan so that was a most excellent and well-deserved addition.