Before I start my review of Les Misérables, I need to mention two things about me; I am a “crier” when it comes to moving and touching films, and I am an avid musical theatre fanatic. So you would think that Les Misérables would be a film I particularly would enjoy, right? But I didn’t. And here is how I feel how it all went wrong…
There are many musical stage productions that convert really well onto film. Unfortunately, Les Misérables is not one of them. The initial prospect of this film was somewhat inspiring. Regarding the concept of the recording of songs, having the actors sing whilst on set is a great idea and makes sense completely regarding the type of musical that Les Misérables is. But when it comes to actually watching the film itself, the execution is lost among the viewer. Most people, if not told before hand about how the music was recorded would not have been able to tell the difference.
The film was impossible to follow and the plot was completely indecipherable. Moving at a million miles a minute, a viewer who has not read the book or seen the musical theatre production will be completely lost.
The cinematography was also shocking. In this day and age, there is no excuse for so much of this film to be out of focus. And the camera angles? There is one scene where two characters are meant to be lovingly meeting each other properly for the first time, confessing their love but yet separated by a gate. They did not even look like they were looking at each other.
I had a feeling that Les Misérables would not translate well to screen. But I did not want to be right. Les Misérables is a type of musical that has very little dialogue, if not at all. How the characters communicate throughout the entire story is through song. A typical movie goer will begin to severely miss normal dialogue when going to see this film, and will wonder when will the singing stop.
Don’t get me wrong, there are many musical numbers that are superb, but it’s meanings are lost in the pacing of this film. “One Day More” is meant to be the powerful punch and finale at the end of the first act in the stage production before the interval. However, in the film the song sadly seems like just another musical number and loses it’s punch as the “second act” is introduced straight after. Because there is no proper dialogue and because of the horrible pacing, the film seems like a bunch of music videos mashed together to make one confusing story.
There are two stand out performances in the movie rendition of this musical. One is Anne Hathaway‘s portrayal of Fantine when she sings the now most popular and recognisable song from the musical, “I Dreamed A Dream“. We can really feel for her character and although that song is very difficult to sing, I must mention that it would be hard for anyone not to feel for Fantine as her story is as tragic as they come.
The other stand out performance would be by the amazingly talented, Samantha Barks who is the odd one out of this cast having Les Misérables experience more compared to anyone else. For those of you that don’t know, she has already played the most coverted role of the musical production, Éponine before on West End and at the 25th Anniversary Concert.
Samantha Barks‘s performance of the famous song, “On My Own is nothing short of beautiful and does not disappoint. We can all relate to her story of unrequited love. What does disappoint however, is the fact that her character Éponine is not wearing her iconic hat and coat in the film counter part to this musical. Whilst many typical movie goers won’t even notice, fans of the musical will no doubt wonder why.
One of my favourite numbers, “A Little Fall of Rain“, the number between Éponine and Marius usually brings me to tears. It is one of the most beautiful songs of this musical. The film version didn’t move me at all. I practically almost felt nothing. Although my heart broke for Éponine, it is Eddie Redmayne‘s portrayal of Marius, his lack of facial expressions and emotions in his voice that really let the scene down.
The Les Misérables movie adaptation lacks the power, passion and soul of it’s musical theatre production counterpart. I suggest that only serious musical fanatics and true Les Misérables fans check out this film only. If you are neither one of these things, I strongly urge you not to see it. Instead, PLEASE GO SEE A REAL MUSICAL THEATRE PRODUCTION. Don’t confuse a great musical with a mediocre movie rendition.
There is a reason why Les Misérables is The World’s Longest Running Musical, it’s just a shame that this could not be translated properly onto screen.
Relating back to what I originally stated being a “crier” and an avid musical theatre fanatic, I neither cried nor enjoyed this film.
I really wanted to like this movie. But some musicals should just be left alone.