Friday, December 28, 2012

les miserables

**caution - post contains serious spoilers, both words and pictures, so if you don't want a "preview", then skip this post**

Wednesday night, I entered the theater a little apprehensively. Stage to screen adaptions are always tricky, and when you love a musical the way I love musicals...well, you just have these butterflies in your stomach when you think, "What if they do it *wrong*? Can they even do it at all?"

Those were the jitters I had as we took the escalator up to the main level of our new impressive cinema, and made our way down the neon-lit hallways to theater 8.

And proceeded to sit through twenty minutes of awful previews.

Blah, blah, blah. Anti-climactic.

And just when you turn your friend beside you and whisper, "We didn't pay to watch these" - the screen goes dark, and the logos start playing, and you realize it's the real deal - hardly registering that the washing waves and foaming spray you see on the screen are the start of Les Miserables's opening number.


And so we were swept away for the next one hundred and sixty minutes as this epic musical came to life on screen.

Les Miserables is not a happy story. Yet, it is not a tragic story. It is a *real* story. It's gritty, and rough. But yet it is lovely and beautiful at the same time. Unfortunately, the evil that makes the redemption possible is unpleasant and uncomfortable to watch. But the triumph of what is good, and the love and salvation of God shone through.

So here it is.


The eye for detail and the amazing sets made the story believable - yet it still had that fantastical aspect of a stage play, where things happen that are *just quite a little too perfect* or something like that. I still can't believe that most of the Paris scenes were filmed on a sound stage. But beyond the masterpiece of set, sound, design and cinematography that Les Miserables is, there is the talent.

Hugh Jackman *was* Valjean. His ability to play this complex role - to show the raw emotion and suffering and inner battle that made up Valjean's early life, and the nobleness and strength that characterized his later life - was truly powerful, work of art.

Colm Wilkinson as the Bishop. A wonderful full circle. The original Valjean, and the new Valjean. Both forever immortalized for their roles in this epic show.



Anne Hathaway. Fantine. She brought the first tears to my eyes with her haunting "I Dreamed A Dream." All you need to see is her before and after to be moved...the lyrics take on new meaning...and the scene with her and Valjean in the hospital forced those tears to spill over. Powerful, powerful, powerful. Before we watched the movie, Dad talked with all of us about setting "no wicked thing before our eyes" (Psalm 101). The scene leading up to her song is not really the best - I recommend you turn your head. I'm sure it's realistic...but you don't need to see it.


"So your Honor, you see it's true - this man bears no more guilt than you. Who am I?
24601!"

Russell Crowe as Inspector Javert. He didn't do it quite the way I wanted/expected, but I didn't mind his interpretation. He actually has a very nice voice. Just needs a little more force....but he *certainly* looked the part.

Isabelle Allen. The cute-as-a-button young Cosette. Very talented little one, and I really appreciated her facial expressions as she truly played each scene and reacted to each characters' lines and actions - whether or not they were directed at her.

The amazing Helena Bonham Carter (from The King's Speech) as Madame Thenardier. And...

....the stellar Sacha Baron Cohen as Monsieur Thenardier. Their song "Master of the House" reminded me very much of "You've Got to Pick a Pocket or Two" from Oliver! - except a little less...umm...family-friendly. It's funny, but it's hard to laugh. A couple little not-so-good parts of that song to be aware of. But still, the Thenardiers are two of the best characters in the whole movie. They have very strong personalities, and provide that little bit of comic relief necessary to keep Les Miserables from being too...well...miserable. 

"Please let's not haggle for darling Colette..." "CoSETte." "...COSETTE."

I wasn't what to think of the new song, "Suddenly." Even though it *was* written by the same composer/song writer, it didn't quite sound like the other songs. Maybe 'cause I just didn't know it *grin* But it was beautiful, and added a lovely little insight into Valjean's heart, and his relationship with Cosette. A love song to a child. We need more of those, honestly.


"Suddenly I see, suddenly it starts/When two anxious hearts beat as one/Yesterday I was alone, today you walk beside me/Something still unclear, something not yet here has begun.

Suddenly the world seems a different place/Somehow full of grace and delight/How was I to know/That so much love/Was held inside me?/Something fresh and young/Something still unsung/Fills the night...

How was I to know at last that happiness can come so fast?/Trusting me the way you do, I’m so afraid of failing you/Just a child who cannot know that danger follows where I go/There are shadows everywhere and memories I cannot share/Nevermore alone, nevermore apart/You have warmed my heart like the sun.


You have brought the gift of life and love so long denied me/Suddenly I see what I could not see/Something suddenly has begun."

Daniel Huttlestone as Gavroche. OHHHHH, he was good. And he lived in The Elephant! The actual Elephant that for some reason I really liked from the book. Way to go Cameron Mackintosh and Tom Hooper! Brownie points for y'all.


"Eponine, who was that girl?"
"Some bourgeois two-a-penny thing!"



Any scene with the students was wonderfully done. ABC Cafe/Red and Black was better than the stage show, in my humble opinion. And that's saying a lot, because I love the stage show.

"Every word that he says is dagger in me/In my life, there's been no one like him anywhere/Anywhere where he is/If he asked, I'd be his..."


Samantha Barks was stunning as Eponine. I was so excited when she was cast, and she did not disappoint. A true star, her voice is full and powerful - so, so, SO glad that the world will know her as Eponine.


Amanda Seyfried as Cosette. Pretty as a picture, beautifully innocent. I could pick a little at her voice, but her acting made up for it.



Let's just establish that Eddie Redmayne is actually pretty good-looking in his own sort of way, and has a wonderful voice to match his acting ability. He was Marius. And he really was.

"Some will fall, and some will live/Will you stand up and take your chance?" 




The barricade was sad. Brutally sad. But it was justice, when you think about it. It was also bloody - not excessively, but enough to make you wince. Overall it was just sad. Not gory, not grotesque. Sad. And the ending...*shuddering, sobbing sigh*
"Just hold me now, and let it be/Shelter me, comfort me..."

Aaron Tveit as Enjolras. I missed the gold waistcoat from the stage show, but that was the only thing lacking. Noble, and steadfast to his cause, Enjolras did not falter at the end. I appreciated *greatly* the little salute to the stage choreography at the end of the barricade - although it didn't help me stop crying at all. Abbey and I were a mess at this point. *sheepish grin*


"Good evening dear Inspector, lovely evening my dear/I know this man, I'm afraid his name's Inspector Javert/So don't believe a word he says 'cause none of it's true/This only goes to show what little people can do..."


Javert's completely out-of-character salute to Gavroche was actually one of my favorite parts. Get another tissue ready. Oh, by the way, his suicide has unnecessary sound effects. You'll see it coming...literally. *grimace*

"Everyday" with Marius and Cosette was so stinkin' cute I could hardly stand it. *grin* Chemistry, folks, chemistry. This was the part my dad got a little teary-eyed...guess it was the thought of giving his girls away some day...

"She was never mine to keep/She is youthful, she is free
Love is the garden of the young/Let it be... let it be..."


I love how Cosette first comforted Marius when he was down and suffering, and built him up again. And then he, in turn, was there to hold her when she needed it most.



And just when my eyes had dried...
"Come with me, where chains will never bind you...leave your grief, at last, as last behind you...Lord in heaven, look down on him in mercy...."
"Forgive me all my trespasses and take me you to your glory...."

Redemption in full circle. The God theme is strong - you can't miss it. What a witness this film has been and is going to be! The timeless story: God is faithful when we are not, He is strong when we are weak. And He is there. Always.

Finally, there was no stopping any tears I had left when the finale swelled full - one of those rare curtain calls you see in film. As the camera scanned the face of each character who died during the musical, I just sat in awe, because here's the truth:

They did it.

7 comments:

  1. Eeep! Great job with the movie review, Jo!

    Totally agree with most of the points you gave. What really stood out from your review was at the end when you wrote, "here's the truth: they did it". :)

    I was telling another friend (whose also a big Les Mis fan), that even though some died, their death was not in vain, because there will always be victory in the end. :)

    Take care!

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  2. Thank you for this review, Jo! I found it a helpful tip as to whether to go to the cinemas to watch it or no. It sounds like a well-done film, and with beautiful themes/acting ( I LOVE the story of 'Les Misrables' so much!!), but as it seems there are some mature themes and things to skip, I'll wait till it comes out on DVD before attempting to see it with my sisters =D.

    We just watched 'The Hobbit' though, and I thought it was AMAZING and TOUCHING and BEAUTIFUL and FUNNY and everything!!!!! I actually read your review a day or so before we went to the theater and now after I watched it, I almost feel like stealing your review for my blog... it was so much how I felt about that movie :). But I won't do that, of course =D

    Now I can't wait for 'The Desolation of Smaug' so much... "patience, my love, patience!" (in a Smeagol/Gollum tone of voice)

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  3. So so so excited for this movie! Glad you liked it, and love this post.

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  4. We've had the soundtrack rolling nonstop since Thursday. ohhh I wanna see it again!!

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  5. Perfect post and a wonderful tribute to this film. Well done, and I completely agree with you. :D

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  6. And little people know, when little people fight.........

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  7. Nice review! My Mom said I can't watch it yet, since it has some... "things", but I'm looking forward to seeing it at some point. Thanks for reviewing the characters, having read the book, I wanted to see how well they transposed them to stage and then to movie. I watched the Hobbit BTW, and now I've earned my place in the family as the musician. The news is out, I was the only one who listened to the soundtrack during the most exciting parts of the movie. : 3

    -Josiah

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