Sunday, December 30, 2012
Les Miserables Movie Review
I have been eagerly anticipating this movie for months. It is my favorite play and my favorite cry. So, all I wanted to do on my birthday was go and see Les Mis.
I enjoyed the filmed version of the classic Victor Hugo tale, due to the performances of the actors. Hugh Jackman was a great Jean Valjean. Anne Hathaway was sweet and vulnerable as Fatime and Amanda Seyfried was the best Cosette I've ever seen. I typically don't like Cosette because she comes off as non-dimensional and whiney, but Amanda gave her a depth and beauty I've never seen before. Overall the performances were great...yes, Russell Crowe doesn't have the singing chops for Javert, but he did looked the part (although I could have done without the little blue "night cap" he wears in the first scene).
So you may be wondering where the B- grade comes from. Welll...direction, direction, direction. For me, the movies flaws were all in the direction. I spent most of the movie screaming in my head "ZOOM OUT, PLEASE ZOOM OUT"!
Most of the film is shot in extreme close up. I think the director (Tom Hooper) was trying to bring an intimacy to the film that you can't necessarily get on stage, but in his effort to bring us close to the characters, he lost the sense drama and scope that the story had on stage and which should have been exemplified on screen. How dramatic this film could have been if the camera lens had pulled out to view the larger images of despair and hope. The scene in the tavern where the students sing "Red and Black", with most of the shots in close up, it never builds the tension of all the students singing as one unit. Singing in unison and moving in unison. Just a face here and a face there.
Typically, I cry throughout the whole play. All I really need is to hear the music. Surprisingly, I didn't cry until the end of the film. I think the close-up technique allowed me to stay more distant and not feel what I normally feel.
In the final scene, we finally get a full screen view of the barricade with all the characters. This was the "moviefication" that I was anticipating in the first place. When you make a movie of a stage musical...make it bigger, not smaller.
Still so glad they made this movie and it was a perfect way to spend my birthday.