Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Les Miserables

Once again, I don't like musicals and, once again, I didn't read the book. There just wasn't enough time in the day to read one of the longest books ever...I wiki'd it, though. All that to say this: this film version is the only version I know in regards to the story line, so if there were inconsistencies there...don't expect to see them pointed out below.

Les Misérables
Directed By - Tom Hooper
Written By - Victor Hugo (novel), Claude-Michel Schönberg (book), Alain Boublil (book), & William Nicholson (screenplay)
Top Billed Cast - Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, & Russell Crowe

The story is set during 19th century France. Things were rough, and the people were desperate. The main tale, woven throughout several years, is that of the ex-prisoner Jean Valjean (Jackman) and how he goes from a parole-skipper, to a legit business man in the eyes of all but the law. It's a story of pain, of fate, of immense sadness, and finally love. 

Pros - 

* It's a Tom Hooper film, the fact that "The King's Speech" was his last movie says a lot, I think. 

* Since it was a Tom Hooper film, I knew going in that I would probably love the cinematography...I was right. The shots in this movie, and thinking about all the technical stuff that went into the way these sequences are captured...mind blowing. 

* For a movie about prisoners and peasants, one might not expect to be commending the make-up artists, but I definitely am. Subtlety but thoroughness seemed to be their game-plan and it worked wonderfully. 

* If Anne Hathaway does not at least get an Oscar Nod for this role, there is no hope left in the entertainment business. The amount of pain she shared with the audience during a single song made the whole movie worth it for me. It was just incredible.

* On the same note, the children in this movie were fantastic! The three main ones are all movie-newbies (stage productions are a completely different animal, in my opinion), and that is just impressive. 

* For a movie that spans such a length of time, and covers so much content, I felt that it flowed fairly nicely. 

* Casting, in general, was brilliant. I'm not typically a Russell Crowe fan but his performances were awesome, as were Jackman's and even, dare I say it?, Amanda Seyfried did a great job. 

* I'll be the first to admit that though I am not a Sacha Baren Cohen fan, I'm not sure I can picture anyone else in that role. He and Helena Bonham Carter made a fantastically awful pair and the comedic relief in such an otherwise dark film, was very welcome.

* The fact that they filmed all the music LIVE, as in "here's an earpiece, he's going to play the piano part, just sing", should be respected. The amount of emotion they were able to capture and the rawness of it all, while in some parts might could have been better in a studio, for the majority of the movie it worked beautifully. 

Cons - 

* While I compliment the cinematography for the most part...there was something that bugged me throughout. I understood the filming style, and appreciated it in the majority of the film. However, when for several stansas of a song, the only part of the actor that is in focus is their right ear....that, to me, is an issue. It worked when the actor was moving about, and kind of came in and out of focus, but not so much when they were just standing there for five minutes. I learned a lot about Hugh Jackman's right ear. 

* I'm just never going to be a fan of a false-ending. This may not have seemed like a false-ending to those that know the story but for those, like me, that are experiencing it for the first was a bit confusing. 

* While I marvel at the ability to get three people singing different verses of a song (or three different songs entirely) at the same time, it's not the best way to have your lyrics heard. I'm sure these scenes were very verbose and moving, I just have no clue what was said. 

* This is mostly just a con for me because I don't like musicals but...I got bored. I fought the urge to zone out, though, and was happy I stuck with it. That doesn't erase the fact that the urge was there in the first place, though. 

Now Mother..
This movie is rated PG-13, and I'm kind of surprised by that. There is a lot of violence, sexual innuendo (and some not so implied), "minor" language, and just intense suspense. Be prepared to talk about the French Revolution, the law versus what's right, desperation, and prison life.

Overall, it might seem like I'm not really giving this movie as glowing of a review as most. However, the fact that I could genuinely only think of the listed Cons, says a lot about my opinion of the film. The compliment the casting is to compliment the cast. Each performance, each part that was played in the making of this movie was played beautifully. The parts that bothered me were far outweighed by the parts I enjoyed, and I genuinely look forward to seeing all of the behind-the-scenes extras on the DVD when it comes out and an desperately hoping for some commentaries! I'm giving it 4/5 stars

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