I watched Les Misérables and here's what I think (WARNING: SPOILERS!)
Monday, January 21, 2013
This blog entry contains spoilers for the 2012 musical movie Les Misérables. You've been warned!
LAST SPOILER WARNING BEFORE YOU'LL GET SPOILERED!!!
SPOILERING COMMENCING AFTER THIS POINT!
Ok, that's enough with the warnings now.
I was lucky enough to have been invited to an advance screening of Les Misérables- the movie won't be out here until late February (oh, the horror!).
So, lucky lady with a ton of movie impressions on her mind. Hope you don't mind that this will be a little disjointed- I really loved the books when I first read them, loved them even more on the second read-through and only saw the musical after. I've always seen the two things as separate entities, so this will be musical-only.
I apologize that I don't know most of the actors' names- I'm notoriously bad at remembering anything but the first role I saw them in. Exceptions: Those whom I can't nail down on one role.
First, the voices. Hugh Jackman: Fantastic singer. What a voice! He made me cry at "Bring Him Home". I know I'll offend some purists but I think he's a better Valjean than the previous one who, I've told, sings the Bishop. Haven't recognized the voice, but it was a nice cameo?
Little Cosette: Great, trained child's voice. She had Castle on a Cloud down.
Grown-up Cosette: Sorry, but she has the kind of soprano I can't stand- weak on its own, supplemented by gratuitous vibrato and with that jarring, harsh and metallic quality that e.g. Anna Netrebko sports as well. Headache-inducing on the Chiso scale.
Éponine: Why haven't I heard her before? She's good- not great, but she's good.
Marius: Who's this guy? Really cute, and a wonderful voice to boot. Weak in the higher range, but that's lack of training I suppose or the song not being really in his register. Lower notes made me melt.
Gavroche: Cute accent, even though I could only follow half of what he said/sang. I'm not the best with British accents that aren't RP, but I'm working on it :)
Fantine: I was amazed that the Princess Diaries actor can sing. And whoa! She has some volume. A little too much vibrato, again, and some notes were slightly unsure but I've heard they had to sing the entire song in one take, and with I Dreamed A Dream, that's hard enough for people who sing musical professionally so: Chapeau, Ms. Princess Diaries.
The Gladiator: Can't sing. Poor Javert, he sounded out of breath all the time. I think the actor had to work very, very hard on intonation and missed expression and volume. His singing sounded a little tortured to me.
Bellatrix and Monsieur Thénardier: They were having fun, and so was I. Great comic talent, and voices befitting their roles.
Enjolras and the students: Good ensemble. I liked Enjolras' voice a lot.
Group numbers: Made me want to sing along. I loved Do You Hear The People Sing
New song: Short! But Hugh Jackman singing, so happy to listen even for a little while.
A Heart Full of Love: Normally one of my favorite numbers, but the voices on this one just didn't mesh. Cosette was trilling around on her own while Éponine and Marius meshed really well. It was a little painful to listen to on accord of the sharpness of Cosette's voice.
Anything Jean Valjean: I wanted the songs to never end. He made me cry during Bring Me Home, did I mention that? I NEVER cry!
Jean Valjean vs Javert songs: Well mixed. Valjean kind of ameliorated the weaknesses in Javert's voice a little.
On My Own: *sniff* Éponine's voice really convinced me in this one.
I Dreamed A Dream: Amazing performance. The acting more than made up for the few weak points in the vocal performance.
A Little Fall of Rain: Umm... not so sure. A little too much acting and too little singing for me.
Empty Chairs: *sniffle* The lower register, again, perfectly suited the actor's voice and while I was wincing a little at the highest note, it fit the mood and all in all, it made me want to hug Marius.
There's more, but those were the ones most in my mind.
On a whole, I really loved the movie. Les Misérables is all about the music, and that's what it should be about. It's a very traditionally filmed movie, but I LIKE that. I LIKE not having to keep up with shaky hand-cams and weird angles and strange perspective jumps. I loved the bird's eye views of both the mountains and of Paris. Keeping the focus on the actors kept my focus on the music, and I LOVE the music. Going to buy the soundtrack and go put the Valjean songs and group number on repeat.
Costuming an scenery was traditional, and well done. I liked that they brought in some nods to the books (like Fantine selling her teeth).
So... a musical film that's all about the musical and the music. I liked it a lot, but I like musicals. The singing could've been better in some instances, but good voices in other roles mostly made up for it (I wish they'd had a Javert who could sing).
Didn't get why Fantine wasn't healthy and happy and glowing again at the end. She's supposed to have her looks back- filming error?
I can't wait to watch again. Somehow, Les Misérables always gets me emotional and nostalgic- it's a good feeling.