I’m still reeling from FINALLY watching this, and I thought it would be fun to discuss this as a community! Multiple people had expressed interest in a post about this film, and I figured WHY NOT? Given that I’ve made the decision to drop Mark Plays as a full-time project, I actually have free time immediately to focus on other things. (That means ALL my commissions aside from one piece of fiction and three re-watches are already done and HOLY COW IT’S NICE NOT TO BE SUPER OVERWHELMED.) If there are ever any other films y’all have interest in seeing me post about, please let me know on Twitter! Feedback helps me figure out what I’m posting about, and in this case, demand was high enough that I knew folks would want to discuss things.
Anyway, LET’S DO THIS.
I have so many feelings, y’all.
- Let me just start saying this: I FUCKING LOVED THIS VERSION OF THE MUSICAL.
- Only Rent beats Les Miserables in the FAVORITE MUSICALS department for me, so I admit that I was skeptical of the film for a while. I believe the first time I saw anything for it was when I saw the production/behind-the-scenes trailer prior to Looper. (PS: I loved Looper as well. Go see it.) In hindsight, it wasn’t as bad, but that first production trailer was one of the more pretentious things I’d ever seen. First time a film musical was sung live on set? Have you not seen HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH? HOW DARE YOU MAKE SUCH AN ASSERTION. (PS: Jesus, go watch Hedwig and the Angry Inch because it will explode your feelings forever.)
- Then I saw that Russell Crowe was playing Javert, and I made a frowny face. Why? Why would you do that?
- And then I saw the actual first trailer, and ALL MY CONCERNS WERE SWEPT ASIDE. Okay, it was weird as fuck, some of the melodies weren’t the same, but it just looked great. Plus, it set my expectations right where they needed to be. I needed to know this would not be a traditional interpretation of the musical and the music. Once I knew that? I WAS GOOD TO GO.
- My god, I was so satisfied with this. I had very few nit picks. Can we talk about those?
- Hugh Jackman whispering “I’m Jean Valjean” during “Who Am I” is just… no. Don’t do that. Thankfully, he sang out “24601!!!!” but come ON. You don’t whisper that line! It is a glorious affirmation of his identity! He is coming to the realization that he cannot escape his past!
- Did anyone else feel like the cuts between songs/scenes was super rapid? I think that this reason alone is why the film is just shy of the same running length as the musical. I wish there was more space for the songs to breathe.
- “Suddenly” sounded great and was thematically appropriate, but it was still weird.
- I didn’t need the sound affect to Javert’s suicide, holy shit.
- I have essentially nothing but positive things to say about Hugh Jackman, but “Bring Him Home” sounded just barely out of his range, and it distracted from his otherwise perfect acting.
- Okay, so I LOVED THIS CAST.
- People told me I’d hate Russell Crowe and Amanda Seyfried, but I didn’t! Once I got used to both their singing voices, I was fine. Yes, they’re very strange for their roles, but the fact that Tom Hooper let the cast act while singing in the way that they did is what helped me get past all the musical changes. This is a film that’s remarkably intimate for being so brash and ambitious. In that sense, I’m perfectly fine with Javert and Cosette.
- Like, every ten minutes, I’d think, “Well, that person stole the show.” Hugh Jackman. THEN ANNE HATHAWAY, HOLY SHIT, SHE WAS ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE. Then Eddie Redmayne and then Samantha Barks and then Y’ALL HOW GREAT WAS AARON TVEIT AS ENJOLRAS and then let me just sit in my puddle of feelings forever.
- God, I don’t even know if I could pick a favorite performance. Anne’s rendition of “I Dreamed A Dream” is stunning on a billion different levels, and she deserves an Oscar. Samantha Barks was OF COURSE brilliant during “On My Own,” and Eddie Redmayne just slaughtered my heart during “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables.” That set alone made the scene, and then he did that cry/sing thing, and then GOODBYE ALL MY EMOTIONAL RESERVES.
- I knew that the singing was going to be more intimate and personal, so I was pleasantly surprised that the bigger numbers (“At The End of the Day,” “Master of the House,” “One Day More,” and “Do You Hear The People Sing?”) were so huge. They sounded just as grand as pre-recorded music.
- CAN WE TALK ABOUT HOW CHILLING IT WAS TO HAVE “DO YOU HEAR THE PEOPLE SING” SUNG QUIETLY BY ONE PERSON AND THEN HAVE THE WHOLE CAST SING LIKE THAT TEARS EVERYWHERE.
- CAN WE TALK ABOUT HOW GREAT “ABC CAFÉ/RED AND BLACK” WAS.
- CAN WE TALK ABOUT HOW THRILLING “CONFRONTATION” WAS.
- Oh god, I don’t ever want to stop talking about this.
- I love Les Miserables so much. SO MUCH.
Please give me your thoughts GIVE ME ALL OF THEM.