I've also been told I have little tact, so if this offends you simply ride on.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Why Les Miserables misses the boat

I finally got around to watching Les Miserables and while I didn't hate it I do have to say I was not that impressed.  Quite a number of years ago I saw the show and truly was impressed with the revolving stage and massive set pieces.  On Broadway it was a pop opera spectacle.  All of that changed when they turned it into a big budget feature film.  What started off as a musical based on the Cliff Notes of a very, very long novel was turned into high opera.  I hate opera.  There is a vast chasm between a live performance and screen presentation.  The camera lens becomes the sole perspective which shows you what it wants you to see.  It drills in for lingering closeups, not understanding sometimes distance is a good thing.  It utterly fails when it comes to ensemble pieces, forcing the editor to make many, many cuts in an attempt to create a sense of unity.  On stage four minute songs do not seem that lengthy because the actor moves around connecting with as many members of the audience as possible.  In the film version they become tediously long, especially when the songs are slow moving, mini-arias.

Performance wise, Anne Hathaway is heart wrenching as Fantine.  Hugh Jackman, on the other hand, well, I kept waiting for someone to drive truck through his vibrato.  The rest of the cast was pretty much on the same level as he, many quality performances but not much heart.  This is a sad thing to say, but truthfully, I didn't really care for the characters.  Depth is not always measured by how pretty the music, or how sad the lyric especially on the bit screen where the lens magnifies every nuance of a performance.  I suspect the reason the film made so much money had more to do with the fact that so many wanted to see it, not because it was great.

Sadly, for the filmmakers, I have no desire to ever see this movie again or even listen to the music, and that's a big fail.  

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