Les Miserables: A “Ménage à Trois” Review

I Dreamed A Dream…that Kevin finally got off his rear end and posted a review!

Kevin Brown: I’m not sure I’ve had quite as many thoughts about one movie – both positive and negative – from this year as I have about Les Miserables, Tom Hooper’s big, bombastic on-screen adaptation of the legendary musical. But as a Les Mis neophyte, those thoughts may be somewhere in the neighborhood of slightly to wildly off base. So I’ve brought along two of my Fantine-loving friends to either confirm or deny them here at the blog – Krista D’Amore and Dan Cohen.

I get to write this post about my thoughts because, well, it’s my blog. Dear lady and gentleman, kindly introduce yourselves and tell us why we should listen to yours.

Dan Cohen: A most jovial of greetings to you, Kevin and Krista.

As KB previously told you, I’m Dan Cohen, and this Les Mis review will be my first, and probably my favorite. Prior to attending Syracuse (I have one semester left…not cool) and immersing myself in sports journalism, my top hobby was partaking in the performing arts. I was cast in 15+ shows, sang in my high school’s a cappella group, took voice lessons, et cetera, et cetera. I’m also an unabashed regular in the audience for shows, whether they be on Broadway or national tours. I have seen Les Mis close to ten times (including once with Ms. D’Amore), and am eager to share my thoughts on the film version.

Krista D’Amore: Thanks, Brown, for inviting me onto this (or letting me on after I begged, “ARE YOU WRITING A REVIEW, I WANT IN!!!?!?”). At any rate, like Dan, music has always been a big part of my life. Growing up, I sang a lot in everything from church choir to community theatre. And, like only the coolest of the cool, I was a member of the Harmony Gold Show Choir in my Ohio high school, making my life the loose inspiration for my favorite horrible show, Glee. I latched on to musicals at an early age, but I’m actually fairly new to the Les Mis phenomenon (my parents thought it was too depressing for me growing up…apparently RENT wasn’t though). I knew the soundtrack pretty well through college, and then, as mentioned, went with Sir Dan Cohen to see it FOR THE FIRST TIME (!!!11!!1!) in Syracuse last year. And I cried, which is actually surprising for me. Hopefully that’s enough credibility for you all.

KB: Well, it seems we run the gamut from overqualified to qualified to underqualified as far as Les Mis is concerned. Also, I’m glad you two both used “Mis” rather than “Miz” as well, because you two know what the hell you’re talking about in this area, and I sure as hell don’t.

Let’s broadly discuss this movie to start (and believe me, we’ll have plenty of time to get into the individual performances and songs). I will start by saying that, of the movies I loved this year, none had as many basic flaws as Les Miserables. The casting of Russell Crowe, the comedic and vocal failures of Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter (henceforth referred to as CohCar, for word preservation’s sake), the long and unstoppable narrative and Tom Hooper’s desire to shoot everything in closeups didn’t bowl me over. But man, when Les Mis works, as it does most of the time – it freaking works. The best moments here are as good as anything I’ve seen on screen this year. I’d go out and see it on stage tomorrow if I could.

And Anne Hathaway deserves all the Oscars forever and ever. Amen.

As long as we all agree to forget about this.

DC: I eagerly concur about CohCar. They were dreadful, there’s no other way to get around that. The Thenardiers are comic relief and improv-oriented roles, and I am angry at Hooper for not giving those two more free rein to have fun with the parts. It was uncomfortable to watch them try to be obnoxious. They became villains. Yes, SBC steals Marius’ ring and he’s far from someone we cheer for, but he’s not supposed to be a loathsome figure – that’s Javert’s job.

Speaking of which…to the question of Crowe as the police officer who can’t seem to get over the thievery of a loaf of bread. He had his strong moments – I enjoyed his final number before taking the plunge, the opening scene where he makes Valjean feel like the scourge of the Earth, and his first encounter with Jackman’s transformation to the Mayor. Otherwise, this role is too vocally demanding for someone of his limited talents. The range is far-reaching, and he can’t handle those low or high notes. KB, as we discussed, he did the best he could with what was put in front of him.

KB: He tried. Give him a blue ribbon or something.

KD: Broad thoughts, in list form:

1) I have low expectations for movie musicals. Rent, Phantom of the Opera, etc…they, like most musicals, rae about 10 times better and more powerful on a stage. Hence, I was pretty forgiving of all of the flaws in Les Mis (of which there were many) because they *GASP* ACTUALLY SANG LIVE. I love that. I don’t care how many times you’ve heard that they sang live in this movie, I’m saying it again. It’s a big deal, and it made me enjoy the experience so much more because they were emoting their guts out through acting AND their voices — for example, Valjean’s “what have I done, sweet Jesus what have I done…” in “Soliloquy”. Good Lord. And obviously Anne. I have no words for Anne.

2) The biggest flaw was in casting, though it didn’t bother me as much as others. My dad (musical fan that still calls intermission “halftime”) called me after he saw it, and his first words were, “Yeah…Russell Crowe….he can’t sing.” But you know? I didn’t care. I treated it as fantastic unintentional comedy, Maximus singing. It’s such a long and depressing story – this was better comic relief than CohCar could ever be. In addition, I’ve never liked Javert. Dan, if you remember when we saw it live, I turned to you and said, “Like. Javert. Bro. Move on. It’s a mouthful of bread.” So whatever, Javert had an underwhelming voice. I’m over it.

3) I loved how over the top it was with the closeups. If you’re going to do this show, do something you can’t do onstage and leave no emotional stone unturned. Though there is a reason that this musical has an intermission. Woof.

But again. I enjoyed it, flaws and all.

KB: OK, seriously though – can we discuss this for a second? 19 years for a piece of bread? What the hell? Doesn’t anybody in the force realize that Javert is an imbalanced stalker and obsessed with one guy who didn’t do anything? Why do we accept this?

KD: He KILLS HIMSELF. Over bread. I think it’s a metaphor for letter of the law vs. spirit or something.

But who needs metaphors, he needs to calm down.

Also, lose the hat.

KB: I didn’t like the moment when Javert killed himself. It didn’t seem to me like there had been enough inner turmoil to justify that decision – not that suicide is ever justified, obviously, but I don’t think Crowe sold the anguish particularly well. So Dan, I suppose we’re at odds over that point.

KD: I actually had more of a problem with his acting than his singing- cold/detached came off as apathetic and awkward. But whatever. We’ve talked too long about my love Maximus Decimus Meridius.

DC: Javert’s a diva. It’s really quite simple. WE SEE EACH OTHER PLAAAIIIINNNNN.

Anyway, allow me to chime in on a few points.

1. The live singing element adds AUTHENTICITY. Movie musicals never have this. You watch Julie Andrews belt in the hills of Europe, or Catherine Zeta-Jones sing her face off in a jail cell, but you know it’s fake. Hooper’s demands for the live piece heighten the emotional response – you hear the sniffles, the trembles. It’s raw and it’s real…and it makes the film that much better.

2. Hathaway. There’s not much to add to what’s already been said. The woman lost 25 pounds for the part, and nearly killed herself doing it. She should win the Oscar on the sole grounds of sheer commitment to the role (see De Niro’s 1980 victory for Raging Bull, when he gained 50 pounds for the pathetic scenes as La Motta in retirement). “I Dreamed a Dream” is like I’ve never seen staged before – she’s physically ruined, and his hit bottom. You feel her pain, but there’s nothing you can do to help this poor woman get out of the gutter. A one-take song? With those closeups? Game over.

3. Jackman is a beast. I AM REACHING, BUT I FALL…

4. The supporting cast is perfect. Redmayne, Seyfried, Tviet, Barks, they all bring the vocal talent and back it up with great interactions with each other. Seyfried’s high notes as Cosette hover and are pure – that’s a damn hard role to tackle for any soprano. Barks has the experience from the West End, and she eats up her screen time. Redmayne and Tviet provide a touch of being young and naive students with a strong helping of cojones at the barricade. And boy, can those two pack a punch with the orchestra.

KB: I agree with the both of you. The live singing was terrific. The fact that the actors can make their choices in the moment rather than in the studio months beforehand adds to the experience. Bravo to Hooper for going in that direction, and I hope that sets the standard for any future musicals on the big screen.

KD: I have to admit – Barks singing “On My Own” in the rain made me chuckle. Not that it wasn’t great – she is superb – but that song and I go way back. High school Krista rocked that song for every unrequited love (“THE WORLD IS FULL OF HAPPINESS THAT I HAVE NEVER KNOOOOOOOOOWN,” sang 16-year-old Krista, stag at homecoming). Can we take a moment to think about my girl T-Swift in this role though, as was once projected? I love her, but thank God that didn’t happen.

KB: We can take a moment.

(Marius! We’re never ever, ever, ever – gonna be together.)

K, moment’s over.

“Oh my GOD! The French are having a REVOLUTION?!?!”

Let’s discuss our favorite performance in the film. And since that has to be Anne Hathaway’s “I Dreamed A Dream”, let’s also discuss our second-favorite.

On “Dream”…that song was the best moment I’ve experienced in a theatre this year. One heartbreaking, breathtaking long take. I was so quiet, I think I actually created negative sound.

Outside of that, the big cross-cutting “One Day More” was terrific, and I’m going to assume that’s where the play hits intermission.

KD: It is! But I actually didn’t like “One Day More” that much. It just seemed a little more hollow than usual because of all the cuts and stuff. And that’s how you should do it for a movie like this, but for some reason it fell flat for me. I don’t know why.

Alas. Performances. I’ve never seen anything like Anne’s performance, Dan alluded to this. “I Dreamed a Dream” is usually like this big diva moment (see: Susan Boyle, circa 2009). And it shouldn’t be! Is Anne the first to sing it like this? How hadn’t anyone thought of performing it like this before? At any rate, if she doesn’t get an Oscar, I give up.

Nothing gets me more than the end though. “To love another person is to see the face of Goooooooood.” It is the only thing I would get tattooed ever (and I plan to…maybe with a few less “O”s). I probably need to re-watch it to judge it properly in film, since I was racked in dry sobs the first time. I remember that the cinematography was good – Valjean in focus with Marius holding a bawling Cosette in the background. It always kills me, because when you’re a 20-something daddy’s girl, you think about your own future “dying father and comforting husband” dynamic. So I’m happy that lived up to expectations. And I’m happy I could give a girly perspective that you guys can’t relate to.

KB: Knew I brought you here for a reason!

DC: Allow me to start with the epilogue. Krista put it best – this sequence delivers everything. Fantine and Valjean’s conversation before his death is chilling, as well as Cosette and Marius being by his side at his last moments. The show comes full circle at the very end. The child Valjean saved is desperate to keep him, while her late mother welcomes him into God’s good graces for a life that has been more than fulfilled. It ties everything perfectly. It’s my favorite ending in any musical I’ve seen, and it was filmed exquisitely. Not to mention the roaring finale immediately after on a grander barricade.

One number we haven’t hit on is “Bring Him Home”. This is a critical moment in Valjean’s development. He discovers who Marius is in relation to Cosette, why he is fighting and who he is fighting for (not just the larger cause). The religious overtones in the number are overwhelming, but Jackman keeps it focused. He’s talking to himself and to God – he wants them both to save the poor soldier. Not only that, this is the hardest song the show offers vocally. Jackman doesn’t just own it, he soars with it. Full voice instead of falsetto? What can’t you do, Wolverine?!

“Pull a rope in water while looking like a Harry Potter goblin” – obviously not on the list of things Hugh can’t do.

KD: This is one of my favorite songs in the show for the reasons Dan said, and my own father/daughter reasons (even though she’s adopted or whatever). But again, hate to be a buzzkill….but he didn’t OWN it for me. It was good. I was happy with it, but I don’t remember being WOWed.

Let me listen again now to confirm these thoughts by listening to the iTunes preview (YouTube did not deliver and I’m writing this from my Spotify-less phone)….yeah. I actually would have preferred a more tender falsetto on the higher parts.

Now that I look at the soundtrack, REMEMBER THAT TIME THEY ADDED A SONG? I keep forgetting about it. Probably because it was forgettable. It was nice. Maybe necessary for some plot development. And Brown probably has no idea what song I’m talking about. Any guesses? No Googling.

KB: “Suddenly”, the number in the carriage with young Cosette.

Get at me, son.

DC: WE SEE YOU, BROWN.

One aspect also worth discussing is the production design. When you’re able to expand past a small stage into an entire cityscape and stretch the scenery, that does wonders. It’s on display here, right off the top. You can’t pull a ship scene like the one from the opening on stage, nor can you do a barricade such as theirs.

KB: You can’t – and when Hooper brought the camera back and focused on more than just Hugh Jackman’s nostrils, it worked wonders. The epilogue especially gave a grand sense of scope and spectacle.

How’s that epilogue work on stage, out of curiosity?

DC: Typically, what you’ll have is Valjean in bed, hit with a spotlight, and then Fantine is stage right (our left) of him before Marius and Cosette rush in from the opposite side to his bed. Valjean will then rise out of bed after handing them the letter, Marius and Cosette unaware of the ghosts. Eponine then returns and sings with Fantine & Valjean before the entire company joins behind for the finale. I’m glad Hooper left Eponine out of this in the movie – her only connection to Valjean is her lust for his son-in-law.

KB: I think you missed a spot.

DC: Ten times in the audience, Brown. You can’t get anything past me.

KD: I agree…I love Eponine’s harmony, though. I don’t remember if it was there. And I was crying when we saw it live, so I’m glad Dan was the stage manager.

KB: I don’t doubt it.

All right, we’ve all gone through our favorite performances…so let me be the first to say that the most disappointing of the 726 songs for me was “Master of the House”, from the CohCarCombo. From what I gather about Les Mis, “Master of the House” is a big, fun, show-stopping number. It played to me as a clunky, poorly sung, not-lighthearted-enough mess. As a Les Mis neophyte, this saddens me greatly.

Also, this looks straight out of a Tim Burton movie.

DC: They blew this one. Badly. You’re right, Kevin – this is supposed to be a rollicking company number, but there weren’t enough players in the inn for this to play as a big song. It goes back to putting the CohCar pair in a chokehold. It was annoying and uncomfortable.

KD: It’s so fun…. everywhere else but this movie.

I don’t know if one stands out as most disappointing. Maybe “Master of the House”? And I was underwhelmed by “One Day More”, but it was by no means bad. I also didn’t understand why Javert was flirting with the edge of a rooftop every time he sang. But there was never a song where I was like “THAT’S NOT HOW IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE!!!!!!” …and that’s rare for me (if you saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows with me, you know I get picky).

KB: There’s got to be some backstory to Javert that I don’t know about, right? Was he constantly dangled out a window as a kid? Did Michael Jackson raise him?

DC: At the very end of “The Confrontation”, Javert reveals that he was born in a jail. My guess is that he rose through law enforcement quickly, and now wants to eradicate “the scum” as he calls it, from the streets of France. He’s a heavy-handed officer, and he pays a heavy price.

KB: I still don’t understand why he wants to stalk this guy over a piece of bread, but Oooooookay then. Moving on.

Hathaway wins, Crowe loses, CohCar was a huge failure. Rank the other main performances from best to worst:

Hugh Jackman
Amanda Seyfried
Samantha Barks
Eddie Redmayne
Aaron Tveit

KD: Aight.

Hugh. It’s a big role, and he did well with it.
Eddie. I bought everything he was selling.
Aaron. I’d probably fight too if he was telling me.
Samantha. She was great, but predictable. Nothing wrong with that, but still.
Amanda. Her high notes were awesome! Everything else was fine, but no one likes Cosette much anyway.

KB: According to BuzzFeed’s Character Guide (http://www.buzzfeed.com/stacylambe/a-les-miz-character-guide), Cosette is “no one’s favorite character”. Yep, sounds about right.

KD: Precisely. Cosette is the popular girl in high school that everyone fawns over but has no depth. (and love at first sight….I know this is a musical, but MEH still) Meanwhile, we’re all Eponine. HE WAS NEVER MINE TO LOOOOOOOOSE….

KB: Poor Cosette. What’d she do wrong? She wants to know about her mysterious father (understandable), she falls for Eddie Redmayne (understandable) and she’s related to Anne Hathaway! I think she gets shafted.

Also, she has to dress up like a peacock.

KD: For what it’s worth, I don’t hate her. It’s not like she had an awesome life. You just never really hear much from her directly, except about her Castle on a Cloud.

DC: Time for me to jump in on the rankings and Cosette thoughts:

Hugh – the best on-screen performance of his career.
Aaron – maybe the best vocalist on screen. I’ve seen him live, he delivers the goods. It’s a smaller part, but one that brings plenty of impact.
Eddie – those high notes are a challenge, and he ran with them. The scene at the gate with Cosette is jaw-droppingly great.
Amanda – More on her later, but her singing talents really struck me.
Samantha – Eponine is a pathetic character to begin with, but she’s done it before, and I enjoyed her performance.

I agree on the thoughts from you both about Cosette. She’s the daughter of the female protagonist, is sheltered by the male protagonist, wants and gets the soldier of her dreams, and her biggest moment is begging her father not to die. What gives?! I mean, her young self is on the poster, but she deserves a little bit more. I’ve always had this complaint about the book of the show. “In My Life,” her part at least, is one large complaint about knowing nothing.

KB: Here are my rankings:
Hugh – Vocal ass kicked in Les Mis > actual ass kicked in X-Men > anything in Australia, probably.
Samantha – My third-favorite performance in the movie. I’m not a teenage girl, and I still fell in love with her and the character.
Eddie – Wouldn’t be completely stunned to see him get a Best Supporting Actor nod. Just wish he didn’t force his face into a near-smile every time he was crying.
Amanda – Homegirl can SING. Damn.
Aaron – I don’t really remember much about his character, honestly, though he was good. Just not memorable enough for me.

Amanda Seyfried might have been the most pleasant surprise of the movie for me, honestly. Considering the dreck that’s littered her career, this was a huge step up. Hyoooooooo-juh.

KD: YOU JUST CAN’T ASK PEOPLE WHY THEY’RE WHITE, KAREN.

(she almost made me forget that she was Karen. Almost. And Mean Girls is not dreck. Mean Girls is fantastic)

KB: I didn’t say ALL dreck. But…yeah, mostly.  Consider the following:

Seyfried

KD: What the hell is A Bag of Hammers?!

KB: “Two misfit best friends incapable of growing up, whose direction is tested by an abandoned child, worn beyond his years; together they invent the family they’ve always needed.”

KD: No thanks.

KB: Let’s discuss Tom Hooper’s directorial choices in this one. Namely the choice of “EVERYSONGMUSTBESHOTINCLOSEUPSSOHELPMEGOD”.

Thoughts?

DC: For me, it depended on the song and the moment. I wanted to see Valjean’s face during his soliloquy, you want to be completely engrossed in the moment there. As for others, it got to be a bit much.

KD: I knoooow, I know, everyone has their panties in a bunch over the close ups. But I covered this in my “broad thoughts” at the beginning of this marathon post….so i’ll copy/paste: 3) I loved how over the top it was with the closeups. If you’re going to do this show, do something you can’t do onstage and leave no emotional stone unturned. Though there is a reason that this musical has an intermission. Woof.

KB: Don’t you dare copy and paste in MY blog.

Anyway, the camera style totally worked at times – “Soliloquy”, for example, looked terrific. But I don’t think Hooper is creative enough with the camera work. I didn’t have a ton of reactions of “oh, that’s a surprisingly good shot” in 2 hours and 30 minutes.

DC: NO CONTROL C AND CONTROL V ALLOWED.

The battle sequences were great fun, as was the sewer scene (CAN WE DISCUSS HOW AMAZING THAT WAS?)  You can’t stage Valjean and Marius being covered in French shit. Only on film folks.

KB: That was a great scene, and then the shot of Javert staring down from the top of the stairs immediately after was terrific.
Damn, Russell Crowe LOOKED like a great Javert in this…he just didn’t sound it.

KD: From an interview with Eddie Redmayne: “It was horrid. You have a wetsuit on under your costume. It’s freezing cold water with clay and mud in it. It was rank. It got to a point after 15 hours of shooting, where you get so cold. There was a bit where I am lying dead and Sacha [Baron Cohen, Thernardier] comes and steals my ring and we’ve been in there for eight hours, and Tom was like, “Eddie, you have to stop shaking.” I’m like, “I can’t control my body.” That being said, I just had to lie there dead, Hugh had to carry me. Anything I can complain about, it feels like nothing compared to what Hugh had to do.”

Wolverine, manly man.

KB: If I only could have been a fly on the wall of this set…apparently Russell Crowe held nightly karaoke parties, as well, and was the force that tied the cast together. Probably because they all made fun of his singing.

This, however, is #AllTheAwesome.

DC: Like the karaoke bars in the Newsroom? Except without Allison Pill pissing us off profusely? #Sorkin

KA: I want to party with Russell Crowe. I need to add him to my 5.  I think Dexter is getting the boot.

Except for skinny Gladiator Russell Crowe. We’re getting off topic. Anyway.

DC: Alrighty, just got back from seeing Les Mis again.  Second viewing produced some good and bad things for me. Here they are in bulleted form:
-Didn’t give enough credit to Amanda Seyfried’s vocal range. There are two high notes that she has to tackle in “A Heart Full of Love” and the piece’s reprise. If any actress fucks these up, it’s beyond painful. She makes them shimmer. Yes, I used the word shimmer. “In My Life” was far and away her best scene, and I so wish we got more screen time from her because she could have done much more.
-I hated CohCar even more the second time.
-“Stars” is one of my favorite songs in the entire show. We get to see the true colors of Javert here. It reveals a theme that’s prevalent in many stories – two sides tugging at the same God for their own missions. Hooper’s shooting of this with Notre Dame in the background, the true symbol of French religion, is brilliantly orchestrated. It’s also the hardest song for anyone playing the part, and even with a lowered key, Crowe can’t handle the challenge. He does what he can, but it doesn’t pack the punch it usually does when witnessed on stage.
-Can we reiterate if we haven’t already how awesome “The Confrontation” is? That sword fight, the choreography, WITH A DEAD FANTINE LAYING IN THE BED NEARBY.
-I didn’t mind the closeups much the second time. When you’re in the audience in a theater, you’re separated from truly capturing the emotion of the moment. Here, Hooper puts us right there, with Valjean crying on his knees during his soliloquy, Fantine coming to grips with her hopeless end. It works for the content.

KB: I think the close ups are generally appropriate, but, again, I don’t think EVERY song needed to have one. The emotion shouldn’t be equivalent for each of the 50 numbers.

“The Confrontation” is pretty terrific, though. Swordfighting while singing, well-shot, turning point in the narrative.

DC: Javert ruins such a beautiful moment there as Fantine dies in Valjean’s arms.

KD: The world is full of happiness that he has never KNOOOOOWN.

DC: …AAAAANNNNDDDD IN A BEEEDDDDDDD

KD: (And we’re counting our blessings)

KB: I’m just about done with you two.

Before we fall off the page here…re-cast Javert and the Thenardiers. Go.

DC: Javert – someone with prior stage experience, not necessarily an A-lister. I’d go with Philip Quast, who was Javert in the 10th anniversary concert in Royal Albert Hall. As for the Thenardiers…man, I’m stuck you guys.

KB: Jack Black with a French accent.

Preferably with this mustache.

Apparently Geoffrey Rush was rumored for Sacha’s part. Can he sing?  Or what about Hugh Laurie?

KD: Oh, I love Jack Black. He can still act, right? School of Rock is all the evidence I need. As for the wife- I like my woman Thenardier a little chubbier (no offense, chubby ladies). Can Melissa McCarthy sing? Also, these suggestions are insane.

KB: On Jack Black – go watch “Bernie” on Netflix Instant. Terrific little black comedy from last year, and he can really sing.

DC: On Melissa – no prior knowledge of such talent, but you never know.  Here’s one: Johnny Depp.  He’d be great for that role.

KD: WAS JUST GOING TO SAY THAT. Except Depp would make it too much about himself (see: new mess of Willy Wonka).

KB: Yeah, I thought about Depp too, who was surprisingly solid in Sweeney Todd…but could he really carry a tune while singing live? And do we want him just playing himself again?

DC: Fair point. I say Black and McCarthy.

KB: Also, can we re-cast Daniel Day-Lewis as Javert?

DC: DONE. DEAL. Him vs. Jackman in a sword fight. Ballgame over.

KD: Does he sing?

KB: He’s Daniel Day-Lewis. What doesn’t he do? He could play in the NHL if he wanted.  He probably ended the lockout.

KD: Let me do you one better – Liam Neeson. I think Valjean would have died earlier then, though.

KB: Wasn’t Neeson in the 1998 version? As Valjean?  (Though, granted, this was a non-musical version.)

KD: WHY DIDN’T THIS HAPPEN AGAIN, THEN?!?!?!!?!!??!??

Er, actually, no. He needs to be Javert. Come on.

KB: Also worth nothing – Rush as Javert in that version.

Come to think of it, Rush could have played Javert again, right? Already has a working relationship with Tom Hooper…nobody remembers the 98 version…I’m going to assume his voice wouldn’t have been any worse than Crowe’s.

KD: I want Neeson as Javert. Who else would obsess like Javert but Liam Neeson?

KB: Man, Wolverine vs. Dude From Taken would have been even more epic than Wolverine vs. Gladiator. I think.

Plus he already has experience with wolves.

DC: “I will find you. AND I WILL KILL YOU, VALJEAN.”

KB: +all the points

DC: I win the House Cup.

KB: What happens when The League of Shadows comes for Valjean, in this hypothetical?

KD: That’s what I mean…no way Valjean survives to old age.

KB: Hey, by the way, Happy 31st, Eddie Redmayne!

DC: Pour one out for Marius at his empty table.

KD: Drink with me, if you will.

DC: Oh, I will.

KB: All right, final thoughts. Krista?

KD: It is by far the best movie musical I’ve seen….and I’ve seen a fair amount of them (like my favorite musical Phantom of the Opera…woof). It was all emotional overload for me because I had just come off an emotional Christmas away from home, and I was drained halfway through. It was a little much. But that’s what the musical is, and as soon as you accept the notion that things are going to be overdramatic, the more you enjoy it. There were miscasts and mistakes, but the whole thing felt raw and gritty and exactly what Les Mis is supposed to be. So, I give it a B+.

KB: Sir Cohen?

DC: Here we go: LES MIS is in my Top five of musicals. It is an emotional, raw, and captivating piece of theater. Hooper manages to maintain those qualities with a steady hand. Jackman, Hathaway, and the actors we have lauded here all bring their best to the table and we are better for it. There are faults, a task this daunting and a transition this enormous are sure to incur some bumps and bruises. I give the film an A-. The Academy is going to drool over the live singing element. Full disclosure: this is one of only a few shows that reduces me to tears, and the movie does so in the right places. It tells the story with poise and proper focus.

KB: Les Miserables WILL be nominated for the following Academy Awards:

Best Picture
Best Actor – Hugh Jackman
Best Supporting Actress – Anne Hathaway
Best Costume Design
Best Art Direction
Best Original Song – “Suddenly”

It COULD be nominated for the following others:
Best Director – Tom Hooper
Best Supporting Actor – Eddie Redmayne
Best Supporting Actress – Samantha Barks
Best Cinematography
Best Film Editing
Best Makeup
Best Sound Editing
Best Sound Mixing

And truth be told, I wouldn’t have an issue with most of them. I’d also tag Les Mis with an A- grade – its many flaws are apparent, but it soars with one majestic moment after another and ultimately succeeds as a breathtaking piece of work. In an admittedly limited line of movie musicals I’ve seen, it stands head and shoulders above the rest.

Daniel, Kristina – it’s been fun. Thanks for making the new guy in the room feel included. Let’s each close with an appropriate line from the film, shall we?

DC: “Let the wine of friendship never run dry. Here’s to you.”

KB: Yeah, that’s gonna end this, because I don’t know any of the lines.

——

Dan Cohen (@DanRCohen) is making the first of what he hopes to be many appearances for “Kevin Reviews Things.” He is a New Jersey native, but prefers to tell people he’s from the Philadelphia suburbs (his house is 20 minutes from the city, look it up). Dan dabbles in Sorkin, Scorsese, and show tunes.

Krista D’Amore (@kcdamore) is a contributing writer for Kevin Reviews Things. Ohio born and bred as well as a Cleveland sports fan, she knows a thing or two about sadness/loyalty. Krista loves Sorkin more than you (even you, Dan) and was on the high school bowling team.

Follow Kevin on Twitter @kevinnbrown.

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4 responses to “Les Miserables: A “Ménage à Trois” Review

  1. Out of curiosity, how could an adapted musical be nominated for an Original Song? Or did they take creative liberties with their source material, thus making me want to see it even less?

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