Les Miserables – were you left miserable?

The latest musical theatre adaption of Les Miserables, Directed by Tom Hooper, has hit the headlines having been nominated for eight Oscars and nine Baftas and has already bagged a Golden Globe. The film has left audiences in floods of tears (me included) and everywhere you look there are five-star reviews, or at least almost everywhere.

The ‘theatre-goers’ amongst us have a potentially more critical view of this emotional story which on stage is sung to perfection with little need for excessive scenery.

Whilst I applaud the risky decision to not pre-record the vocals it impacted on the film by showing the obvious flaws in the a-list actors who do not have theatrical trained voices and were unable to sustain the long notes needed.

I personally was disappointed with Russell Crowes portrayal of Javert who lacked attack and sometimes lacked anger and emotion which he is only too capable of. Jean Valjean was played by Hugh Jackman, vocally below parr yet his acting was better than I have personally previously seen of his and made up for his singing somewhat. Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen disappointed me greatly; the characters I have seen on stage are comical and much less intense than other characters in the story, I found them almost disturbing and lacking humour.

All this said, I was as always taken aback with complete admiration watching Samantha Barks play the part of Éponine; I felt every word she sang and her pain ran through my body, she was perfectly cast and faultless. Eddie Redmayne’s superb performance as Marius was note perfect, emotional and completely believable throughout. Fantine was played fantastically by Anne Hathaway and I enjoyed her rendition of ‘I dreamed a dream’ leaving me in floods of tears.

I found the opening scene dramatic and an excellent portrayal of the musical and instantly I was fixated. The slightly disappointing performances were for me made up by the other exceptional characters afore mentioned and overall I enjoyed the film.

I don’t think you will often see a musical turned film ever better in film than on stage, for me musical theatre is all about singers who can act and a film tends to opt for the opposite. The thrill of hearing a live orchestra and live singing will forever remain firmly in first place over a film. I don’t think anything was achieved by recording the singing live and hope other musical adaptions do not make the same mistake.

No doubt I will probably watch it again on film; but without doubt I will travel to London to see this again and again. Maybe I am over biased due to my extraordinary experience when I saw Les Miserables in London in 2012, maybe it is because I love the theatre and all it is about or maybe the film just simply isn’t as good…

PS. My friend who accompanied me to see the film, who is neither an avid theatre goer nor as critical as myself, thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the film! His favourite performance being those of Anne Hathaway and High Jackman.

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