Thursday, January 10, 2013

'Les Mis" is a miss for me

Let me preface my remarks before sharing my views on the movie version of "Les Miserables" that I saw the live version of the play, in addition to watching all the PBS specials over and over again. Love it that much.

There was some reservation on my part upon learning that there was going to be a film version of the popular musical play, which has played all over the world to rave reviews. Knowing that music and singing was the main focus, I naturally assumed that professional singers or at the very least actors with voices that could carry a tune, would be used. Unfortunately not. Instead, and it boggles the mind why the producer/director/whoever went in this direction, unknown actors were chosen for the most part. This in itself wouldn't be detrimental if they could carry a song.

For me, Anne Hathaway had the physical gaunt appearance of Fantine and although I've heard her sing and she can carry a tune, in the movie her voice doesn't make the grade. Even more surprising is that she was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Supporting Actress category. A big mystery is why Russell Crowe ended up in the movie at all since his presence as Jalvert lent nothing to the role. Perhaps he should limit his vocal abilities to his rock band. The role of Cosette played by Amanda Siefried had the effect, to coin an old phrase, like squeaking chalk on a blackboard. Actually, gritted my teeth at some points. The only performer that was acceptable in my view was Hugh Jackman, nominated for an Oscar in Best Actor category, who seemed to be holding back on his vocals until the mid point of the film. He is a stage and Broadway performer and his experience in this area is obvious in the role of Jean Valjean. Also noted is that Colm Wilkinson, who was in the London and New York production of the play in the role of Jean Valjean, had a cameo role as the Bishop Myriel.

Overall, the movie didn't get started for me until the barricade scene. Until that point, it seemed to drag and plod along and is too long. Loved the chorus and this made the movie somewhat enjoyable as did the visuals. The movie version doesn't even begin to match the stage version and therein lies the problem. Some stories are best left as a play.

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