Well, I just got back from a Christmas outing seeing Les Miserables after a lovely Christmas dinner with my family. I love Les Mis (obviously not as much as Phantom, but quite a lot) so I was nervous/excited for the movie, though a bit apprehensive about the casting. I wanted to get my thoughts out so if you haven’t seen the show it may spoil it. If you’ve seen the show, not the movie, well they’re essentially the same(ish), but this will spoil some of the changes.
If you're not into Les Mis, you should probably skip this post.
Notes about the cast:
Hugh Jackman- he does a really excellent job acting wise and pretty good singing, though he’s a bit nasally at times and his Bring Him Home didn’t blow me away like I wanted it to. That song done right is a breathtaking tear jerker
Anne Hathaway- Awesome. She does a great job with Fantine.
Russell Crowe- He tries but fails at making an impact with his singing. Stars is underwhelming at best. He does a fine job acting , I mean all he has to do is be stern, so that wasn’t bad. But singing, eh
Eddie Redmayne- An adorable Marius, but he shakes his head like crazy when singing and it gets distracting because of the many close-ups in the film
Samantha Barks- despite the massive cuts to her character, Sam does a great job. She is excellent
Amanda Seyfried- I shudder to imagine what the other auditions were like if she was the best Cosette they could get. Seriously hun, learn to hold a note please.
Helena Bonham Carter + Sasha Baron Cohen- a great comic relief duo.
Along with some casting issues, the camera work left something to be desired. Anytime someone was singing a serious song, the camera was just in their face and it was a close-up, which was alright for some scenes but for others it made me really mad. Like in Empty Chairs and Empty Tables, I wanted to see some ghosts of his friends or something, not just him looking sad. Because the song is about how he is sitting around despairing about how he is the only one that lived, and he can see all of his friends and imagine them sitting there singing about revolution instead of being, you know, dead.
Before I talk about the bad scenes/songs specifically, let me talk about the good:
I liked the change of position of I Dreamed a Dream, it actually makes a ton of sense to put it there cause that’s Fantine’s lowest point. It makes sense for her to be singing about the dreams she had after being reduced to a prostitute.
The new song, Suddenly, is sweet and adorable.
Little Cosette is a-freaking-dorable. Her and Valjean in the beginning are soooo cute.
Eddie Redmayne during In My Life was super adorable and skipping around and happy in love. It was sad to see how oblivious he was to Eponine
The students were all awesome, and I enjoyed spotting actors I knew, like Killian Donnelly.
Gavroche was really good- Javert pinning his medal to Gavroche post barricade was really emotional and really helped me like Javert a lot more
I enjoyed how they changed Enjolras’s death but still kept the traditional hanging-by-his-foot death position.
I didn’t miss God Eat Dog, so I didn’t mind that cut
Javert’s Suicide was pretty great. Like I knew it happened and it still was like “Holy crap!!!” and it had a nice parallel to Stars while he was walking the edge
Colm Wilkinson actually made me care about the Bishop, and I liked his inclusion at the ending, like him welcoming JVJ since he was the one that helped him turn his life around.
A LITTLE FALL OF RAIN- Not only was the intro cut (“I don’t think I can stand anymore… Eponine what’s wrong… Oh god, it’s everywhere!”) but my favorite verse that includes “I’ll sleep in your embrace at last” was cut so it was essentially the high school version of the song. I get the realism thing, but would a little more of one of the best songs have killed you? NO. And then the outro “She is the first to fall, the first of us to fall upon this barricade” was cut, and she was quickly carried away, giving very little time to show Marius grieving... So her death takes all of 2 minutes when it is actually quite important and sad. It also didn’t give much fire to the Marius/Eponine friendship, nor did it show how Marius sent Eponine with a letter to Cosette to save her from the barricade, only to tragically return and get shot on the way back.
I will say, I love that she saved Marius by pulling the gun to her. Very nice change. But the barricade and its cuts just made Marius seem more like a douche than normal and just didn’t lend itself well to his character development.
Didn’t like that Drink with Me was cut, I think that song is very important for the atmosphere of the barricade and shows a lot of different perspective people are having.
Come to me- I liked that they used the evening star verse and had visions of Cosette in there, but I missed the “But I will sing you lullabies and wake you in the morning” part as well as the “Take my hand, the night grows ever colder” lines but the death had the desired and necessary emotional and heartbreaking impact, with a great transition into Confrontation.
Confrontation- I’m mad they cut the “I will be there” ending of the song, I just really like that part and missed it. Though them singing and fighting at the same time was crazy awesome
Stars- Russell Crowe just never gets to that level of awesomeness that I wanted out of him. My sister described it as sounding like Crowe had just gotten the song and hadn’t grown into the role yet. I think they could have gone for a lesser known for this part and still been fine with the star power of Jackman and Hathaway
Javert chasing Valjean after Suddenly- if I was Cosette, I would be like WHO THE FUCK AM I WITH THAT WE HAVE TO RUN AWAY FROM THIS DUDE???? And it would have freaked me out. Also, it makes Valjean look like an idiot for staying around there when Javert would be looking for him. Shouldn’t he have moved far away to avoid Javert?
Anything with adult Cosette- Seriously. I did not enjoy her high notes at all. She was pitchy and couldn’t hold them. Cosette is not a mega part, I think they also could have gone with a lesser known here and been fine
Bring Him Home- Also never attained the awesome I wanted out of Jackman. I especially did not enjoy the ending of the song.
The Ending- Valjean doesn’t mention Fantine to Cosette, which I kind of missed.
And finally, as much as I liked the new song, it seemed like it didn’t fit as well, probably because it hasn’t been in the show for the last 27 years but still. My sister did like it, but she too felt like it didn’t fit, mostly because it’s a completely new melody and doesn’t use themes from other songs in the show like most of the other majors ones, so there’s no melodic connection (unless I’m missing it).
Overall, these things might seem really nitpicky but I would love to see the movie again (and especially the stage show) and I did really, really like the movie. I think to non-obsessive theatergoers it will surpass expectations of awesomeness, and I am content with how it turned out. I really want to take my parents to see it cause I think my mom would really enjoy it.