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Les Misérables

Working Title/Cameron Mackintosh

The success of Les Misérables stems from the great directing of Tom Hooper. As a musical, it strays away from becoming merely a stage performance filmed on camera. Other movie musicals tend to be either “more movie than musical” or “more musical than movie”. Hooper’s Les Mis (yes, I get tired of typing the accented “é”), however, succeeds in becoming a perfect hybrid, becoming, in my opinion, a great example of musical cinema.

Working Title/Cameron Mackintosh
Nothing says "cinema" more than Russell Crowe's mug.

In musicals, both stage and film, the music, lyrics, and acting should all go hand-in-hand. Claude-Michel Schönberg’s music is a perfect fit to the narrative progression, while the lyrics of Alain Boublil and Herbert Kretzmer are a perfect fit to the music, the acting is a perfect fit to the lyrical delivery, while the visual execution is a perfect fit to everything else. What’s great with this film is that the actors don’t appear to be singing. Because this is film and not theater, the actors can sing in low registers, some of their lines almost whispered. This gives a new dimension to the singing, unlike in theater where actors have to sing aloud so the audience can understand what they’re saying.

Working Title/Cameron Mackintosh
The audience also needs to understand that
Sacha Baron Cohen is terrible at remembering names.

The casting was excellent, from Samantha Barks to Amanda Seyfried to of course Hugh Jackman. Honorable mention goes to Russell Crowe as Javert, showing us that one does not need classical vocal training to sing in a musical. But at the end of the day, I’d personally bet that Anne Hathaway brings home the Oscar.

Working Title/Cameron Mackintosh
"At the end of the... oh, I see what you did there."

Les Misérables. UK. 2012.

Original rating: 8.5 / 10
Helena Bonham Carter: + 0.2
Sacha Baron Cohen's LOL moments: + 0.25
Me confusing this with A Tale of Two Cities: - 0.2
Final rating: 8.75 / 10

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Unknown said...

I'm at a disadvantage because I have not seen this on stage but Hooper's translation from theater to film was well appreciated. One particular treatment I really liked was the zoom-in in soliloquies and zooming out for context. A feature unique in film and absent in theater.

I beg to differ in the casting though. Although I get the point that the film must feature actors who sing (rather than singers who act, apologies to Anne H, hehe) Javert and Valjean, being the main characters appearing throughout the plot, should at least be able to hit high notes without looking and sounding constipated.

Hello sting lacson, long time. :D

Nice! I was actually staying away from this because Giosi slept thru it while Maan sang with it. No regrets because I was watching The Hobbit then. Then, the inevitable: you're right in that it's the right kind of hybrid. And then I realised why the songs were popular (good). That was quite a musically moving day which started with Jennifer Hudson and Streisand at the Oscars.

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