1. Les Misérables, for the unfamiliar, is not a comedy. This is a film based on a musical play based on a novel by Victor Hugo, and there’s already been an excellent adaption on film that I’m fond of, mainly because it features Captain Barbossa and that guy who punches wolves, Liam Neeson. While that film featured virtually no singing, this one features virtually no spoken lines, and has the feel of a movie that desperately wants an Oscar.
2. One thing you should know about the singing parts is that they were all recorded live on the set, which is virtually unheard of in cinema. The goal was to get a purer, raw experience, much like you would on Broadway. Overall, I would argue that this delivery made it ten times more memorable, but not all memories are good, are they? Some notes seemed a bit off, and I know Russell Crowe has gotten some flack over his delivery, but I also thought Jackman fell flat a few times, and usually post-shooting dubbing would have fixed that. That said, Anne Hathaway’s stirring, vulnerable performance of “I dreamed a dream” may have caused little tears to well in my eyes. Either that or a bit of popcorn salt was lodged in my eyeball.
3. Some may criticize the film as being bombastic and overly dramatic, but I would question if they’re familiar with the source material. That’s like calling a movie based on Justin Bieber too girly and shallow; it’s the whole point, the genre, if you will. Some parts definitely benefited from being in a musical, but maybe a few spoken lines could have added weight to other moments.
4. If I had to pick my favorite singers, it’d be Anne Hathaway and Samantha Barks, who reportedly beat out Taylor Swift for the role of Eponine (thank goodness). She had also already played the role onstage at the Queen’s Theater. (SPOILER ALERT) I only wish Hathaway had stuck around a bit longer, no matter what the book said.
5. I said this wasn’t supposed to be a comedy, but that’s not saying it lacks humor. By my count, about 95% of the comedy comes from Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter as Thénardier and Madame Thénardier. I usually shudder when I see Sacha Cohen in anything, so this was a first for me, but I’m always a fan of Carter since she’s basically a female Johnny Depp. They both owned their roles well enough for me to laugh and forget about whatever character had just tragically died (after a while, it was hard to keep count).
Final Thought: This well-done adaptation is probably in the love-it-or-hate-it category, but I think it’s a safe guess that it will be taking a money bath before the end.