Movie Review: Les Misérables

This post is wayyyyyyy overdue! I saw Les Misérables with my parents on Christmas day, then with some friends from church on New Year’s day. Then again on Sunday with some other friends from church. And I’m ready to see it again! If only movies weren’t so expensive…

Anyway, I read the novel by Victor Hugo during my senior year of high school. And I loved it. I mean I ate that thing up. After reading it I saw a student production of the musical and rented the 1998 film with Liam Neeson. I loved both. Eventually I saw a professional production of the musical and loved that even more. I think I’ve seen the musical two or three times at this point, and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve listened to the soundtrack. This is just to set the stage for you: I LOVE all things Les Misérables.

So how did this film version of the stage musical live up? Obviously it was awesome, because I’ve seen it three times. There have been lots of complaints about the film from fans (mostly about Russell Crowe’s singing and Tom Hooper’s not-so-steady camera work), but I don’t care. I thought this movie was as perfect as you could get.

Hugh Jackman is amazing. I saw him on Broadway in a musical called “The Boy from Oz” so I knew he could sing, and he’s always been one of my favorite actors. He did a great job portraying both the hardened and the redeemed Valjean. Some people said his vocals were too nasally but it didn’t bother me. Maybe because I already knew how his singing voice sounds, so it wasn’t surprising. The only thing I didn’t like about his performance was his “old man grunt” at the very end. He kept saying “oh!” in this sad little old man voice, and I was annoyed. Other than that, he was perfect.

Russell Crowe was fine – he was a great Javert to me although I do agree his vocals were underwhelming in comparison to the rest of the cast. His voice just doesn’t seem to project as much, and he does these weird little dips sometimes. But I don’t need Javert to be the bestest singer ever, and his acting more than made up for his singing.

Anne Hathaway obviously blew it away as Fantine. She was NOT afraid to be ugly while she sang/cried, and I mean more than just that haircut. Her facial expressions were brutal. She sang beautifully and did her big song all in one shot. Impressive. (Note: I didn’t link to a song here because it’s in the trailer below).

Samantha Barks has played Eponine before, so maybe she had an unfair advantage over the rest of the cast, but she nailed it. Her voice was perfect, and she adapted herself well to the screen. Sometimes stage actors go too big in movies, you know? But she got it right. I am pretty sure we’ll be seeing her in more movies. Also I think we should all take a moment to be thankful that Taylor Swift did not get this role.

Amanda Seyfried as Cosette was a little disappointing for me, but I’m okay with it. My friends complained that her voice was quiet, breathy, and too “trilly”. And those things are true, but aren’t those things also how you’d expect Cosette to be? Eddie Redmayne as Marius was actually my biggest problem with the movie. He had what I call a “kermit-y” tone, where he just sings way too far in the back of his throat sometimes. He also says “sorry” a lot (see clip) and does this weird thing where he shakes his chin and sometimes his entire head when he sings. Anyway, here is a clip of them singing a love song. Aaron Tveit was Enjorales and he killed it. I can’t find a clip, which is a shame. His acting and singing were both killer and I am sad he wasn’t a bigger part in the movie.

I have more thoughts about this movie obviously but this is already a long post, so I will leave you with the trailer and my recommendation to go see is as soon as you can!

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