Saturday, 9 February 2013

Les Misérables

director: Tom Hooper
year: 2012
with: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, etc.

story: "In 19th-century France, Jean Valjean, who for decades has been hunted by the ruthless policeman Javert after he breaks parole, agrees to care for factory worker Fantine's daughter, Cosette. The fateful decision changes their lives forever"

To make two things clear before I start: I love musicals and I like "Les Miserables" although it is not one of my favourite musicals.

My experience watching the film is very mixed and I'm still trying to figure out if I liked it or not.
I'm sure all people who love the musical will adore the film and it is just super critical me again who couldn't be won over.
It is as simple as that: For me the transformation from stage to film hasn't worked.
In theatre your eyes can browse, there is an intermission. On film the 2:37hrs get lengthy.
In theatre you generously ignore the fact that whatever happens in history and wherever geographically, always the same people cross each others path again. On film that suddenly appears unrealistic on the edge to being unbearable. On stage you hear about filth, agony, wounds and death - on film you see it...and maybe more than you wish for. On stage proper trained singers sing loudly and strong to reach anyone in the house, thats how the music is powerful. On film they sing to themselves, in close-up...more realistic, intimate and emotional but like that the music lost quite a lot of it's impact.
This last point is probably the crucial one for me: the technique of letting the actors sing live and within the scene is what makes the film special in certain ways. But I was disappointed of what it did to the singers voices and how it diminished those goosebumb moments the score normally brings...On the other hand: sung "stage style" meek singer Russell Crowe wouldn't have stood a chance at all.

What I did like was casting Colm Wilkinson, THE original Valjean as the Bishop of Digne.
And I enjoyed Eddie Redmayne as Marius a lot. "Empty chairs and empty tables"  always has been my favourite song of the musical and remains it because this scene is stunning and pretty much the only touching and tear-jerking one.

Smaller things that irritaed me (but which are similarly problematic in the stage show) are e.g. the Cockney slang of some characters - it still is a French story set in France and not some Dickens story set in London!

So I'm sure it's a good film and most people will adore it but for me it was too dark, to realistic, too long and let down by intimate instead of powerful singing.
I will keep liking "Les Mis"...without the artifical looking city scapes, the dirt, blood and sewage and certainly without kitschy butterflies accompanying love duets! 

PS: One sentence came to my mind last night which, as cheap as it is, I have to write: Russell Crowe does what he does best - fighting...;-)

1 comment:

  1. Ich hab das Musical nie gesehen, bis zu deinemm Artikel wusste ich nicht mal worum es im Stück überhaupt geht^^ Deine Kritik und den Vergleich zum Film zu lesen fand ich nun hochinteressant, das Stück und den Kinofilm aber immer noch nicht. Klingt sicher etwas paradox ;)