I went to see Les Miserables on December 27th, with two good friends and my husband. We chose a Forks and Screen showing so we could have spacious comfortable seats, a quiet audience and good food and drink.
It has been years since I saw this show on stage and had forgotten the full impact of this show until the movie opened with Jean Valjean on the prison ship. I had forgotten how rich the orchestrations were, how grand the lyrics were how sweeping the story was.
At first I was not impressed with the live take singing. I know that Hugh Jackman can sing better than that. Then I thought about it and when you see a show on stage all the voices are pitch perfect and polished not a sour note sung- ever. But in the movie, the singing is live with each take and not overdubbed later and emotions can be better conveyed this way especially when all the emotional takes were in tight close up. Every furrowed brow, every tear, every emotion that is on the actor face. It is priceless to see.
Anne Hathaway was amazing as Fantine, the single mother who sells her own hair after losing her job in the factory, which I read was done live on film as the character has it done. she then becomes a reluctant prostitute to provide for her child, Cossette. Her singing of “I Dreamed a Dream” was amazing, emotional and powerful. She is a very close second to my favorite Fantine, Ruthie Henshal, although Hathaways performance has deeper nuance as compared to Henshal’s stage Fantine.
Eddie Redmayne is amazing as Marius. He has the look of a young college boy appropriate for Marius, with a powerhouse voice. Empty Chairs at Empty Tables hasn’t sounded this good since Michael Ball performed it in the West End.
I did think however, that Amanda Seyfreid as Cossette was okay. Her voice sounded like Minnie mouse or a recording that was played back too fast. This was especially true in “A Heart Full of Love.” I realize that this is her voice but I’ve heard to better in Mamma Mia.
The stinker of the group was of course, Russell Crowe as Javert. Yes, he can carry a tune and stay on pitch but as far as singing technique he doesn’t have it. My friends and I were hoping he would jump during “Stars.” so we didn’t have to listen to him sing anymore. I was really surprised to learn from the movie production notes that he had started his career in musical theater in Australia. That may sound cruel but everyone else in the movie was brilliant.
One very unexpected and very awesome treat in the movie was the appearance of Colm Wilkinson, the original Jean Valjean as the Bishop of Digne the man who sets Jean Valjean on the right path of life after his release to parole by Javert. He’s still got the chops!
I do plan to buy this movie when it comes out on Blu-ray so that I may enjoy it time and time again.