365 Movies By Day Reviews of Movies I Watch that I Feel Like Writing About


Les Miserables (2012)

So it turns out, to no big surprise, that I'm not really a fan of musicals. I haven't seen Moulin Rouge! or Chicago. Even though I've been told how great both movies are, I haven't yet found the desire to even give either movie a chance. There was something about Les Miserables, however, that piqued my interest. I'm pretty sure it was the Anne Hathaway trailer. I've said on my blog many times that Anne Hathaway and Michelle Williams are, in my opinion, the two best actresses in the world. I'll go out of my way to see any movie that either of these actresses star in. I thought the Hathaway "I Dreamed a Dream" trailer was perfectly made. It won me over on the spot. I put aside any reservations I had and promised myself I would see it.

***Start of small spoiler***

This movie, with a run time of 2 hours and 38 minutes had not just a -1 going into it, but rather a -2 (at least). I was hoping my first musical would be closer to 1 hour and 38 minutes. However, I knew that going in. What I didn't know was that Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married, Love and Other Drugs) was only going to be on screen for about 20 minutes. If you go into the movie, like I did, thinking you are going to see a Anne Hathaway movie, you are going to be very, very disappointed. With that said, the 20 minutes of Hathaway as factory worker Fantine were fantastic. Because I like her so much, I do hope she gets an Academy Award nomination. She was extremely deserving for her nomination in Rachel Getting Married and I thought she got snubbed for her performance in Love and Other Drugs). However, I have never been a fan of actors and actresses receiving supporting awards if they are on the screen for less than 20% of the movie. There is something about that idea that doesn't seem fair. I don't know if there are five other actresses in supporting roles who have performed better in their films than Hathaway did in this one, but I would bet that they are on screen a lot more than she is in this one.

***End of small spoiler***

So I liked Les Miserables. I really did. I'm just not sold on musicals. After talking with friends, it seems like a lot of people have seen this performance on stage. I'm surprised with the number of people who have seen it multiple times. I think it might be cool to see on stage. I wouldn't say I'm a huge fan of plays, but I can do them every once in awhile. This movie played out too much like it was on a stage though, so much so that I kept wondering why it wasn't just kept on stage. I didn't expect hand to hand combat like The Last of the Mohicans, but I was hoping for a little more than the overdrawn fight scenes that you would expect to see on a stage. I get that the dialogue and the telling of the story was done through song and, while the visuals were awesome, I wanted something more. I can't exactly pinpoint what it was that I wanted, but for all the hype surrounding this movie, I thought it was good, but not amazing. If I were giving it a grade, I would give it a B. At times it was B+/A- level, but at other times (especially during the middle hour) it was only slightly above average.

Performance wise, I thought Hugh Jackman (X-Men, The Prestige) was wonderful. Jackman has hosted the Tony Awards three times and the Academy Awards once. He has a wonderful voice. The role of Jean Valjean was the one Jackman was born to play. He does an amazing job developing his character, first as a prisoner, then as the "mayor" of a town of factory buildings, to a fugitive on the run for breaking his parole all while attempting to balance his own moral compass. While Hathaway's brief performance was breathtaking, it was Jackman who made this film. I didn't think Russell Crowe (Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind) was awesome as the ruthless Inspector Javert, but it wasn't terrible either. It was a tough role, especially for an accomplished actor diving into this sort of genre for the first time. Other great performances were Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat, The Dictator) as Thernardier, Helena Bonham Carter (The King's Speech, Alice in Wonderland) as Madame Thenardier, and Eddie Redmayne (My Week With Marilyn, The Other Boleyn Girl) as Marius, the love interest of Fantine's daughter Cosette (Amanda Seyfried - In Time, Albert Nobbs).

Overall, Les Miserables was a successful adaptation of one of the most influential plays of all-time.

Plot 9/10
Character Development 9.5/10 (Jackman, in particular, developed his character well)
Character Chemistry 8/10
Acting 9/10
Screenplay 9/10
Directing  8/10
Cinematography 8/10
Sound 10/10 (of course)
Hook and Reel 9/10 (many thought this movie started out slow. I was not one of them)
Universal Relevance 8.5/10

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