Yesterday, Mike and I went to go see Les Miserables. I've never really written a movie review before, but I thought I would give you my thoughts on the movie: casting, acting, and camera work. I promise, there won't be any spoilers! I was supposed to read Les Mis in high school, but I only used Cliff Notes, soooo I only knew/remembered a bit of the story, going in.
I had been looking forward to seeing this movie for a few months now. When I heard that all of the singing was done live, I was hooked. In various points while watching it, I just couldn't believe the incredible acting skills and emotion combined with the voices. The whole idea of the spontaneity of acting instead of having the record the songs and make decisions a few months ahead of time makes it so unique. It is amazing that the actors actually were able to set the tempo for the movie, because they had hidden ear pieces and heard a piano while singing, and the orchestra was added after. For more about this, you really should watch this video.
The casting was overall amazing. Hugh Jackman has mad pipes! I have to admit, in the first scene, I couldn't get the image of Wolverine out of my head, but his ever-changing role of Jean Valjean was so perfectly executed. Russell Crowe was a very good acting choice for the role of Inspector Javert, but his singing just could not compare to Jackman. I love Anne Hathaway, and she has a beautiful voice. Her role was smaller than I hoped it would be, but she definitely put her everything into each scene [even actually cutting her hair]. Before seeing the movie, I joked about only seeing Amanda Seyfried as Karen Smith or Sophie Sheridan, but her voice is unbelievable. She had the perfect innocent quality for her role as Cosette. Isabelle Allen plays the younger Cosette and was also a great choice. I had never heard of Eddie Redmayne or Samantha Barks before, but their portrayals of Marius and Eponine, respectively, were great. They provided great support to the cast and and Samantha did a perfect rendition of "On My Own." Last but not least, Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen as the Thenardiers. Like I said, I had really only read the Cliff Notes of Les Mis before, so they were a bit of a shock to me. The parts seemed a bit forced and didn't quite fit in with overall sense of struggle throughout the movie. Obviously, I am not about to review the writing of the book or play, but they were perfect for what the part called for. There were so many additional supporting characters, especially the many revolutionaries, that made the movie so perfect.
Now onto the cinematography. At parts I felt the movie was a bit shaky. I haven't read much into the camera work, but I felt as though it brought a very modern element to the movie. During the scenes with a lot of action, I found myself getting a little dizzy as the director cut in and out of shots and the camera men seemed to follow the actors and actresses on foot. However, what was perfect was the depiction of each character's monologues and solos. They kept the camera steady and close up on each actor and did many songs in only one of two takes. It really made the idea of singing live seem so much richer and more meaningful, since you could tell they weren't using countless bits and pieces to put together one song.
As for the accuracy of the movie, I cannot speak too much to its closeness to the book or movie, but I can speak to its historical correctness. I was a history major, and have done a lot of reading, as well as took a class on French history. The movie takes place after the first French Revolution, in 1815, 1823 and ending with the June Rebellion in 1832. From what I watched, everything down to the costumes were perfect.
So, that's my opinion. I was in no way paid or swayed by anyone or anything to write this review.
Mike and I have been watching trailers/behind the scenes/featurettes on Les Mis's YouTube site all night. They are wonderful and I NEED to get the CD. All of the music is just magical. [Mike's response to reading this, "What's a CD? Are you going to put it in your jambox??" ...thanks.]
After reading this, if you are looking for a sort-of spoiler or overview of the movie, there's a video here. It's actually the international trailer, apparently everywhere anywhere else besides in the US knows the story so they can tell the whole plot in 2:30.
Coincidentally, Mike and I also received matching "banned books" mugs for Christmas from his aunt - and of course, Les Mis is on it - can you spot it? We have been drinking some warm beverages from them all night straight out of the Keurig!