Thread: Les Miserables
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Old 01-08-2013, 07:37 PM
Originally Posted by SpikeDurden View Post
I wrote a pretty harsh review above, but the more I think about it the more I realize my heart and head are fighting over this one. I have serious issues with the filmmaking, obviously, but I really love the material and the performances and did get some genuine enjoyment out of finally seeing this source turned into a film.
I definitely plan to see it again, and with my harsh objective criticisms out of the way perhaps I will enjoy it more.
I didn't think your review was too harsh. In fact I thought it was spot on. The director sucked ass, and quite possibly ruined something that could have been outstanding.

Here is how the opening played for me: kind of meh throughout the "look down" sequence, awesome song but it played on the screen as kinda average. Which is weird since that seemed to be one of the bigger and more elaborate sets. Anyway, after that we go to Valjean at the monastery or whatever, and when he starts singing in front of the cross it feels a little off too. Strange. But I think that was more just settling into the idea of "live singing / acting," which is new at least to me. Once settled, and by the end of that song when Valjean storms out of the castle or whatever, I was leaning forward in my seat wide-eyed and thoroughly impressed. I srsly said "holy shit" to myself at its conclusion, then looked around uncomfortably hoping no one heard me.

The first song shot in that ultra-close-up style, with the frame tight on Jackman's face, it worked. It worked incredibly well. What the movie should have done was let that sit there like that, instead of trying to duplicate it for every minute of the rest of its running time. When Anne Hathaway's big moment came and the camera's all in close-up mode again, it already felt overdone. It started getting annoying a little bit into her song, and then a little more annoying as the song went on, and by the end of it I wanted to punch the screen. It was infuriating, literally infuriating, to where I was almost seething thinking "for the love of god, director, PULL THE CAMERA BACK!! You are ruining this!" It worked once. It did not work the second time. Or any of the subsequent ones. I suspect that his aim was to showcase how they're singing and acting at the same time, which is more obvious in close-ups, and that would've been just dandy if it were used in moderation rather than in long, ultimately tedious shots.

There was a lot of other shit I didn't like about it, but they're story elements that are subjective complaints. Sweeney Todd had similar ingredients, the two dipshit teenagers who fall "in love" upon sight, but it didn't piss me off there as much as it did here. I think it's because in Sweeney the camera wasn't shoved right up in their faces every moment, so when those scenes came where they're singing their retarded shit to each other I could just look at the background a little until it was over. That wasn't really an option here.

Speaking of Sweeney Todd, it was way better. And it shouldn't have been. The themes of this movie are huge, and universal, and can be explored forever if done the right way. Forgiveness and grace and love and all those eternal ideas, they should have equaled a much better movie than Johnny Depp cutting people's throats. The actors aren't to blame, as they all did great. I agree about Russell Crowe's underwhelming vocal talents being strangely appropriate for the role. Story-wise, maybe the movie shouldn't have shifted its focus away from Valjean quite so often, as I really didn't give even a quarter of a shit about Marius or his revolutionary buddies and was pretty much bored by most of that. Yeah, I understand that the novel was sorta about the Revolutionary War and bleh and that's a huge part of the story, but an important part of ensemble's is to make every character interesting. Otherwise the audience is just waiting for the plot to get back to the ones they connect with, which to me was Valjean and Javert (and to a lesser degree Cosette, through association). However comma, I thought Cohen and Carter's "Master of the House" number was a nice little comedic break that was perhaps needed. Maybe a little tonally incongruous, but that's forgivable imo.

Anyway, the things I'm bitching about are things I probably wouldn't have been so bothered by if the direction were better. "I Dreamed A Dream" took me out of the movie completely by the time it was over, and that is solely the fault of the director. It wasn't the same after that. By what I've read so far it seems that was the standout moment for most other viewers, the thing that everyone is calling "astonishing" and so on, and Hathaway Oscars and bleh. It had the complete polar opposite effect on me. Weird. In conclusion, this flick had some really great ingredients and a shit-ton of potential, but ultimately it felt like a missed opportunity.

PS, I had never heard one song or known one thing about this musical until I saw the movie. I hated The Phantom of the Opera movie largely because Gerard Butler blew in comparison with Michael Crawford, who I'd known as the Phantom for years before the film. That changes people's perspective, a preexisting opinion, and I just wanted to make it clear that I had none, in case anyone wondered.
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