Full disclosure. I hate musicals. I hate Grease. I hate the Sound of Music. I hate Grease. And genuinely believed that I would hate Les MisÚrables. So I was in a quandary. I started a review website. Something that would not constructively criticise any movie that came to cinemas. Any movie. Except Parental Guidance. While I am not a convert to the genre, Les Miserables was a film with a decent story, but some obvious flaws.
Former convict Jean Valjean is mayor of a small French town in the 1800's. After the death of one of his factory workers Fantine (Anne Hathaway), Valjean adopts her daughter Cosette (Isabelle Allen). Valjeans life becomes perilous when his former prison guard turned inspector Javert (Russell Crowe) discovers his presence in the town. Valjean and Cosette escape to Paris with Javert at their heels. They hide for nine years (Amanda Seyfried, playing older Cosette) and the pair becomes embroiled in a revolutionary plot, each character coming to terms with Javert, hope, love and duty.
Stand outs for me were the presence of Sasha Cohen Baron and Helen Bonham Carter as the devious Thenardiers, adding much need light-heartedness to the broody environment. Russell Crowe is somewhat okay as the dutiful Javert. However, his singing quickly becomes a labour to listen to. His emotional range is narrow and, considering the character, his range should be more torrented and zealous.
Hugh Jackman and Amanda Seyfried were terrible choices for the film. Valjean's catharsis should a lot more moving than it is on screen. However, Jackman was boring to watch and hear. His face has only ne setting; serious. No emotion, just serious. Seyfried failed to draw me in. Hathaway as Fantine was at least a shining light in the movie. A great singer and actress at the same time. Unfortunately not on screen for long.
My biggest concern with this film is debatable. Les Mis started as a novel by Victor Hugo, published in 1862 and was eventually made into a musical in the 80's. The original story is sound. It is deep and thoughtful. It is the genre I have a problem with. Why does the adaptation have to be a musical? The source material is good enough to merit an adaptation without it being musical. I understand what I have said is blasphemy. I understand the blow back.
Two and a half hours was too much. I was right to be suspicious about a musical. However, this is what reviewing is all about; watching a movie you may have reservations about and challenging those reservations. While I can point a couple of musical numbers I liked and then look to Cohen and Carter for a chuckle, my views remain firm. Les Miserables will engage with those that love the deep story and music. It will bore those who want to see Jack Reacher instead.