“Les Miserables” – an amateur film review

I don’t see that many movies in theaters for a lot of reasons; it’s silly to pay that much, I don’t live all that close to a theater, and the movies aren’t usually that good. But, on Friday, I saw Les Miserables. I saw it for a couple reasons; I was curious about all the rave reviews, Helena Bonham-Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen are in it, and – although I know the story, and love it, but I’m not a diehard Les Mis fan – I really love movie musicals.

Here, for what it’s worth, is my review:

What could have been better…

  • I went to the theater with my sister. All she knew about Les Miserables was that Susan Boyle sang “I Dreamed A Dream” and what she’d seen in trailers at other movies and ads on television. Her biggest complaint was that the movie didn’t do enough to explain the reason behind why the characters did what they did. And I agree. It was lacking on so-called back-story. My sister’s biggest question was to wonder why Marius, who was briefly shown to be very rich, would join with the students (who she didn’t know were students) to rebel. Very legitimate question, if you ask me. On the other hand, it was already a two and a half hour movie so more would have been, well, too much?
  • The Marius-Cosette-Eponine love triangle has always sort of bored me and it held true here. The story is so strong, so much, without them. I should say that I haven’t read the book, but I intend to. I’m sure it’s more in the book, but for the musical, where everything truly important takes place in the span of just a few days, it seems like too much and too perfect. Don’t get me wrong, Eddie Redmayne and Samantha Barks were perfect as Marius and Eponine and Amanda Seyfried was alright as Cosette… I just don’t like the characters.

What was just right…

  • The casting of Hugh Jackman, Helena Bonham-Carter, and Sacha Baron Cohen was absolutely right for the roles. The innkeepers, especially, stole the show – as those particular actors usually do.
  • The sets and cinematography were amazing and, if I hadn’t known it was filmed in England, I would have been completely convinced that Tom Hopper and company re-built 19th century France somewhere in, well, France.

What surprised me (i.e. what I really, really loved)…

  • Daniel Huttlestone and Isabelle Allen, as Gavroche and young Cosette, were some of the best child actors I’ve seen in a long time. I cried when Gavroche died, because Huttlestone made him come alive. I was sad, too, when Cosette grew up into Amanda Seyfried because Allen was better.
  • Russell Crowe has been largely panned for his performance as Javert but I think the critics are wrong. He was really very good. I remember watching the Liam Neeson (Valjean)/Geoffrey Rush (Javert) film and thinking nothing could surpass Rush’s Javert but Crowe did it. I’m no singing expert, by any means, but I got excited and happy whenever he came onscreen to speak or sing. He made the character.
  • I had no idea who Aaron Tveit was when I sat down in the theater but I knew Enjolras was one of my favorite characters in the story so he had a lot to live up to. And he did. I found myself wishing Marius would go away so Enjolras could be the center of attention because he needed to be. The character could easily have been overshadowed and marginalized, for example I have no idea who played Enjolras in the Neeson/Rush film, but Tveit made sure that everyone remembers Enjolras in this verson.

Will I see Les Miserables again? Definitely.

What did you think?

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