Movie Review – Les Miserable (2012)

Posted: June 9, 2013 in Movie Reviews
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I kick started the gusto of starting with Oscar films by watching Les Miserables first. Having watched the prose version just a day before watching this poetry version well, I must say I wasn’t disappointed. When a sentence gets this long to convey the meaning it wanted, you must have pretty well guessed what my first opinion would be. If I had not watched the prose version before I don’t think there would’ve been much change in my thoughts as there were hardly any surprise. Though I’m not a sucker for surprise I felt a tad low when everything was guessable.

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The film had second best cast among Oscar nominees. The obvious first one was Lincoln. Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway were all the huge names associated with it. But the ones who stole the show were Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter and the brilliant kid Daniel Huttlestone. Because the latter were the ones who really looked like being in the film rather than the formers who were just acting in the film. Special mention to the kid who was so amazing with his diction and pronunciation. Their singing was far more natural and flamboyant. I’m not talking about the quality of singing here, the intention, it was really real. For me Russell Crowe was too manly and was stiff throughout while singing, Hugh Jackman tried his best, Anne Hathaway was good at points but was a bit too melancholic for the role. Uma Thurman absolutely nailed in the previous version.

One more huge difference between the two versions is how it made us look at the characters. In the former I was not at all interested in Jean Valijean, it was Javert who stole the show, thanks to Geoffrey Rush. So when I saw Russell Crowe who is one of my favorite characters I was excited. But in the end Hugh Jackman dominated the film. Russell Crowe was heavily under used. I guess this must have been the books intent. I haven’t read the book but still I somehow feel that in the book we must have been tempted to follow Jean Valijean and not Javert. Javert is more of a special character which every book has. My guess is that Billie August would have been inspired by Javert too much while reading the book and made him the central character. Happens!

The posters of the latest version of Les Miserables were highly misleading. The poster were a young cosette’s close up is shot is haunting. It reminded me of Carrie. People who had not known about the movie would have faltered with their opinion. One more reason that I don’t get is the movie has been given PG13 elsewhere but in India it’s given an ‘A’ certificate. I don’t see any major criteria for this as the movie was absolutely subtle.

Coming to the film, it effs and puffs with grandeur in each and every scene. The opening scene itself is enough for us to bask in the glory of its warmth. The opening song was splendid. One of the 50 songs that was about to come. If you’re going for a count, don’t count the number of song instead go the count of dialogues. I guess there wouldn’t have been more than ten dialogues throughout. That was the toughest part, to console our self that it’s a musical. We tend to forget it every now of then because we are so habituated with prose. Every time when things get serious and we expect an intricate confrontation all that happens on screen is another song. Sometimes it’s tiring. Not to say that nine out of ten people were pissed every time a song started and went on a high pitch.

But everyone who were teasing too were enjoying when Thenardies absolutely rocked the scene. It was so hilarious in an otherwise highly melancholic movie. Similarly the part during revolution too was highly inspiring which made the people sit up and enjoy the movie.

The storyline is as simple as it can get with Jean Valijean, a convict who escapes parole and lives life in three different parts. He’s constantly being followed by Javert and a cat and mouse game goes on throughout. Jean Valijean falls in love with Fantine, mainly because of the guilt and his love for her is passed on to her daughter Cosette. Cosette in turn falls in love with Marius Pontmercy (Eddie Redmayne) and a tiff ensures between the daughter-dad duo. After revolution how they unite and what happens to Jean Valijean is the crux of the story.

The emphasis here is not on the story. It’s on the way it was told. Even though the movie is not as engaging as it’s expected, given its genre. It is a commendable effort. But in all Les Miserables is a honest portrayal of the book where the feelings were so real and stayed true to the book.

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