The Hunchblog reviews Les Miserables 2012

 

Les Misérables Poster, picture image

Les Misérables Poster

I finally got around to seeing the movie version of the musical of Les Misérables. Before I discuss this movie I will admit that I’m not the target audience for it. I was not well acquainted with musical prior to seeing this film and while do like the idea of Musical movies I only really like a few of them. That said I really didn’t care for this movie, I didn’t hate I just didn’t like it. (WARNING; this gets ranty)

Anne Hathaway as Fantine, Les Miserables , picture image

Anne Hathaway as Fantine, Les Miserables (Get used to this framing style, it’s everywhere )

 

Les Misérables fails as movie. There is a visual language to movies that keep it interesting for a viewer. When a movie just has a actor perform without any camera work or interesting edits for 3 minutes the scene becomes stall. There is no point to filming a movie if you are not going to present the story in way that is visually interesting. I Dreamed a Dream is a prime a example.

Anne Hathaway as Fatine performing  I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables, picture image

Anne Hathaway performing I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables (This looks more like an Ad than a still from a film)

Anne Hathaway gives a heartbreaking performance but after 30 seconds I became distracted by lacks of edits. How about a reverse shot? Even if was one take you can still have two camera angels. How about some zooms or pans. How about using the space in your sets? What’s with this stationary medium shot that is off center? It’s dull. The camera moves a bit but it’s really just to keep up with Hathaway’s movement and maintaining the frame. I understand that director Tom Hooper likes the off center placement of the shots and consider it “his thing”. It does promote a feeling of uncomfortableness and it worked well in The King’s Speech but it doesn’t work in Les Miserables. though it works in I Dreamed a Dream but I find it distracting after 30 seconds. Watching Anne Hathaway sing uncut for 3 minutes is not really any different from seeing the musical live but at least at live a performance you feel the energy of the actor. Then again, maybe I’m just heartless.

 

Paris, maybe, Les Miserables, picture image

Paris, maybe, Les Miserables

Then there is the issue that film doesn’t have any establishing shots and doesn’t give any indication of the passage of time. This make the narrative feel confused. But more than that without establishing shots you can’t see the sets. What is the point to having these sets that look like they could be great if you not going to show them to the viewer.

Samantha Barks as Eponine Les Misérables, picture image

Samantha Barks as Eponine Les Misérables

The point of taking a musical and making a film is to give the songs and story a visually interesting telling. The most interesting visual presentation of a song in this movie is Stars. Javert is walking on the edge of a bridge. That is interesting! (Even if Russell Crow was miserable in this movie) Jean Valjean pacing back and forth in a church, dull. Fantine crying about her life because of her crap day and half uncut, didn’t work visually . Epoine walking heart broken in the rain, zzzzzzz (and I like that song). What is the point of adapting this if your not going to be interesting with staging, filming or editing? Was it just to use establish actor is these roles? I think it might have been. Frankly I don’t give crap if the actor are singing live for a more a emotional performance. They played this way too straight. They should have been more artistic. The whole of this movie feels like gimmick to use the live singing and promote it. After all that seems what the film and the director are concern about not the viewer’s experience watching a movie.

Samatha Barks as Epoine & Eddie Redmayne as Marius Les Miserables 2012, picture image

Samatha Barks as Epoine & Eddie Redmayne as Marius,
Les Miserables

However, because the film tries to play with the viewers’ emotions about these people we have to look at the characters to see if the film was successful. Because the film steamrolls over the narrative I can’t feel for any of these characters. It’s like BAM here is a character, BAM here’s their issue, BAM they’re in trouble don’t you feel sad? Answer, Not really. You meet Fantine, I don’t know who this character is so don’t feel that much when she goes through her hellish day and half (without time passage I don’t know how much time pass between her firing and death). How did she die? I know she dies of TB in the book but in the movie it seem it like death by plot….? Sorry Fantine, I wasn’t moved. I didn’t get a sense of your character so meh to you. Epoine same, you like Marius that’s nice he’s not into you….. ok…. oh you’re dead…… oh well. Javert’s obsession? Didn’t see it at all.

Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean,  Les Misérables, picture image

Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean, Les Misérables

Oddly enough the rare lines that are spoken (like 3 lines) were most genuine parts of the movie. I feel like Hathaway and Jackman were trying to win awards. Crow didn’t seem to care very much. Redmayne, Tviet and Barks did seem to try and they were at least successful for the most part. I think Tviet was probably the best as Enjolras.

Do you hear the people sing, Les Miserables, picture image

Do you hear the people sing, Les Miserables

Do you hear the people sing felt like a movie, with visuals, that were slightly interesting, that kept your attention. Though I could do without the Dutch angles…. a pox on Dutch angles.

Anne Hathaway and  her Oscar,picture image

Anne Hathaway and her Oscar

I feel like this movie was blatant Oscar bait and considering it was nominated or 8 Academy Awards and won three I guess it was successful. It also won heaps of other awards and earned $437,710,466 at the box office, its budget was $61,000,000, and grossed $376,710,466. So, it was successful at that end of movie making which is the important part for studio. The film however has a polarizing effects on audiences and critically was not much cared for. Had the movie had clear establishing shots, clear passage of time indication, and more interesting presentations of scenes and songs it could have been much better. But for m,e as a viewer, it failed to be visually entertaining and emotional interesting.

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7 comments on “The Hunchblog reviews Les Miserables 2012

  1. Bell-Ringer of Notre Dame on said:

    I have excessively low expectations for the Brolin adaptation. I gaurentee you will be in the same, dull, generic tradition of the 2010 Alice in Wonderland and all of these other “action fantasies” based on fairy tales and classic literature. I also can bet on the fact that in interviews the crew will put down the book and other adaptations because they are “monster movies” and how theirs is new and jazzy with cgi cats. It makes me wonder about adapting NDdP as a movie. I like the music for the most part, but the sets and costumes are pretty weak. I know it’s on stage but why is Notre Dame just a rock wall?

    • Esme on said:

      Oh come on now! I’m looking forward to those jazzy CGI cats.
      But seriously, yeah I doubt Brolin’s adaptation will be anything like the book and even if it is I can see it as being bland with every big name celeb in it in a desperate attempt to get the masses to go see it.
      I’d love a small, indie, close to the book HOND…something not for the masses, but for the fans of the book/story with a few cats here and there.
      Hollywood is too obssesed with getting everyone to like everything. And HOND isn’t a story for everyone.

      As for an NDDP movie-although I would LOVE to see that happen in my lifetime, it would need the right director, producer and cast to give it the sets the musical deserves. Unfortunately I can see it being another Les Mis castwise; “Let’s get some big name celebs so that everyone will want to go see it. We’ll get that guy who’s in all the dark/serious parts for the priest, that smokin’ hot babe for the gypsy, Ron Pearlman will be Quasimodo and that one guy who’s in all the action flicks now…no, not him the other guy…the good looking one and Johnny Depp can be the poet guy…etc.”

      • jess on said:

        Well if the Brolin version has CGI cats how can it go wrong? The second he used the words jazzy and funky and any thought that the version would be anything like the book was out the window.

        Of course Hollywood movie studios want to be appeal to everyone, they want to make money OR they want accolades. I’m not sure want they want out of this version. It’s a vanity project so Brolin could want awards but it’s a fun version so that means it wants money. Though it could try to go for though tech awards, like Best Cinematography, then it wants both.

        I agree Notre Dame de paris would need the right director. It would not be an easy musical to translate into film since it’s rare that the singers actually sing to and with each other. I could not think of any actors who could play the parts in Notre Dame. I know Johnny Depp sung in Sweeney Todd but I don’t think he has the singing chops for Gringoire. I mean just listen to song Lune.

        Plus on a poll I ran, most people would rather see Depp playing Clopin (in general Hunchback version)

    • jess on said:

      I have no expectations on this movie. My guess it will exist in this realm of “meh” and will be remember by no one. Like remember that Three Musketeer movie that came out in 2011? Neither does anyone else. I think the “fun action” fairy tale movie works better with fairy tales or fables but not with literature. Adapting works in new interesting way is great but Hunchback doesn’t really lend itself to action, at all. But now I would love to see Quasimodo running in slow motion down a corridor with and explosion behind him and jumping out a window. If it’s going to action I hope it’s ridiculous action.

      I think Brolin has already put down the book in interviews and which for someone who’s personal vanity project only has script and no-one else attract isn’t a smart move. Makes him look dumb.

      I would love a Notre Dame de Paris movie. But it would have be handle by someone who get directing on a visual level. Flat, off-center angles are not going to work for NDDP. As for the look of NDDP, I have theory which I have to do some research on but I think the reason for the minimal approach was either it was more in style in France or that when Notre Dame de Paris was being made Musical were not popular in France and that impacted the budget. The Rock wall can be anything the show needed it to be . I didn’t mind the rock wall, it made for some cool choreography.

  2. Esme on said:

    Although part of me wants to see this…Les Mis is why I read NDDP, a part of me is REALLY skeptical. It has too many big name, trendy celebs in it and to me that says that either the producers/casting directors didn’t think there’d be a big market for the film without those big names or that they were attempting to launch the careers of lesser known actors, so they needed the trendy celebs to say “see (insert celeb name here) is working with these new comers, so these new folks have to be talented.” It’s not that I have anything against any of the celebs, but the fact that the film has so many accolades mskes it seem too good to be true.

    • jess on said:

      It seems like that is true. Especially when you think how it was rumored that Taylor Swift was going to play Epoine. Crowe was pretty much a joke in this movie. Everytime he came on screen I laughed which I don’t think was the reaction the film intended to have for his character.

      • Esme on said:

        I remember hearing about the Taylor Swift thing. Although I like her songs and think that she’s a good song writer, that would have made me just boycott it all together. Taylor Swift is too cutesy, bubble gum pop star for the role.
        Most of the actors they did pick are usually in romantic comedies and action films…not something so dramatic and strong. I’ve heard some of the songs from the movie soundtrack and they just miss the pure emotion and it comes off sounding like Hollywood actors trying to show that they have depth and can totally connect with the characters. Too phony. That makes me fear what the Josh Brolin adaptation of HOND will be like.

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