Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Les Miserables [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]

This was definitely the movie out of the best picture nominees this year that I had the least interest in seeing. That might be why I took so long to get around to Les Miserables. I'm not into musicals in the slightest, but Russell Crowe, and to an extent Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman, were enough to interest me in this. Also while watching finding out Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter were a sort-of comic relief duo it kept me alert. But this musical turned feature film was a long watch and a struggle for me to like even a little.

Les Miserables follows the story of recently freed slave Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman). He is freed after 19 years by prisoner guard Javert (Russell Crowe). Who tells him he'll never get anywhere again in life, since he'll always be a convict. One night Jean is fed and given shelter by The Bishop of Dinge (Colm Wilkinson). He ends up stealing a ton of silver and getting caught by the police. The Bishop has mercy on Jean, telling the police it's a misunderstanding, and forgives him. Eight years later, Jean has become the mayor of a town and a successful factory owner. Putting his past behind him. One day there is a dispute between the workers at his factory when a woman, Fantine (Anne Hathaway), is found to have an illegitimate daughter. Cosette (Isabelle Allen) is living in another city with two sleazy inn owners, The Thenardiers (Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen). Fantine is fired and is forced to become a prostitute to continue sending money to her daughter. Fantine is almost arrested by Javert, she's in terrible condition, when Jean intervenes and saves her. Fantine dies in the hospital and entrusts her daughters life to Jean who is forced to run from Javert who found out who he is. Jean saves Cosette from The Thenardiers and continues running from Javet all as France is in the midst of a revolution.

Oh boy, this was long a long adaptation. I don't mean 55 yard field goal long either. I mean, kicking it from your own endzone long. Sports reference in a review about a French musical, can you tell I miss football? This movie is two and a half hours and since most of it was song, I felt myself just listening to it rather than watching. If you're into musicals (or have seen Les Misrables live) and the like it, I doubt you got bored watching this. But for me, it was just one long dragging scene after the next. I'm assuming the plot and story are taken straight from the play, and it's pretty good. You can tell that they took their time and tried to include all the pertinent information. The story is highly original, which is good considering it's one of the biggest musicals of all time. It's just a shame I couldn't connect well with most all of the characters, and you know all the dragging scenes and the length didn't help this at all. The songs themselves were done well. A lot of them I just tuned out after awhile cause they went on far too long. The cinematography was pretty cool as well. But you can only show these awesome places and sets so many times, in the span of the long two hours, without it losing the initial "Wow Factor" of seeing things.

As far as the characters and acting go, the only one that I cared for following was Javet, played by Russell Crowe. His whole demeanor and transformation throughout the movie was pretty interesting to follow. Fantine, played by Anne Hathaway, was pretty solid and set up the second-half of the movie well. While Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter as The Thenardiers were pretty solid comic relief in an otherwise serious movie. I guess Jean, played by Hugh Jackman was alright, but he wasn't the strongest and pretty forgettable. Isabelle Allen, was great as a young Cosette, while Amanda Seyfried as grown up Cosette lent no redeeming qualities to a supporting character. The rest were pretty forgettable as I can't think of any other off the top of my head. Only liking and getting into one or two characters out of an ensemble is not the way to make an interesting movie. The singing was pretty good throughout. Russell Crowe really surprised me. You could tell he's not a singer, but shined in his role. Hugh Jackman was a great complement to Crowe in their scenes together as well. Anne Hathway is clearly the best of the main character singers and she did great with her songs. I didn't know Sacha Baron Cohen had pipes, but his comedic scenes were all done well. I liked Helena Bonham Cater in Sweeney Todd and I still like her singing in this as well. There was also a girl I didn't recognize, Samantha Banks, who apparently reprises her role that she had in the musical and never sounded bad.

My main problems with Les Miserables is this length and its characters. While I liked a lot of the singing and the story, the long run time and inability for me to truly invest in anyone, kills any momentum this movie had in my eyes. Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway's performances will keep you into this if you can't quite get into the early parts of this movie. While the combination of Crowe and Hugh Jackman (with some of the supporting cast) keeping you somewhat engaged till the end. If you've never gotten or been able to see this live, and have wanted to, I'm sure you'll enjoy this heartily. But for people like me, while I see what others would love in this, its not something I can truly like.


  1. Cohen had pipes in Sweeney Todd, guess you didn't realize it was him haha.

  2. Cohen had pipes in Sweeney Todd, guess you didn't realize it was him haha.

  3. I haven't seen it in a long while, I just remembered I really liked Helena in Sweeney.