Monday, December 31, 2012

OK - an (almost) unbiased review of Les Miserables

So I saw the movie that people either loved, or didn't really like at all.  Or didn't like some of it.  Or mostly liked it, but had criticisms about this, that, or something else.

I am a person who loves music, have performed in jr. high school musicals, sings (on and off) in the church choir, have taken just a few voice lessons to improve what tiny amount of talent I might have, and (though I hate to admit it) generally don't like movies with a lot of singing it them.

So, the pretty average viewer.  

And though I love movies in general, I have a hard time staying awake to see the whole thing, even in a theater.  And watching them at home, well, forget about it . . . (it's a slightly genetic thing, I think.  You'd believe me if you know my Dad).

Read a few reviews by regular people and talked to a couple people who saw it and liked it / didn't like it / liked it, but had some criticisms.

The harshest reviewers were the ones who had seen one or more live productions of the play, large and small.

They said the singing wasn't the greatest.  Some performances were better than others, but generally, lower quality than Professional Opera Singers.

But for me, the only time I saw this play was a not-very-professional tape recording of a semi-professional production.  And I was aware of the general outline of the movie and the characters, something that I had seen and heard during my brief run of voice lessons.

So I really didn't have any firm, preconceived notions of this movie.

Nor do I have real training, or an ear, for the perfect pitch, tone, or phrasing.

(Unless, of course, you include the training I get when I watch American Idol or America's Got Talent or The Voice.   I love those shows!)

I think that was to my benefit
when I saw this Les Miserables.
THIS movie, I stayed awake for.
Not one single moment of nodding off for me.

After the first few minutes, when I became adjusted to the fact that this movies was indeed going to be mostly sung (see second paragraph) I settled in and really got caught up in the story.

This movie, without exception, was the most emotionally performed of any movie that I have ever seen in my life.  (And I have been alive for quite a while).

The raw emotion, the more-than-heartfelt and gut-wrenching performances of the actors, who mostly are known for acting, and not singing, along with some really really great unknown (to me, anyway) vocalists, really made me feel the emotions of what those individuals must have gone through during that era of time.  I know, I know, this is not a true story but there is always truth in every good story.  It is based on historical truths of the era.  I felt those truths as they were sung with such passion.  

A special note about Anne Hathaway.  I first saw her in "The Other Side of Heaven", which may have been her first role.  Not a big part, but her career spring-boarded from there.  Some bad, some good, and some excellent movies.  Usually the Good Girl, always at least the Pretty Girl.

So, for her to put herself through what she must have, emotionally and physically, to play this role, is beyond compare.  Shorn locks, dirt, and decay, through and through.

Her performance of the heart-wrenching "I Dreamed a Dream" was, hands down, the most passionate, anguished, and beautiful performance of any song that I have seen or heard, anytime, anywhere, by anyone.

I loved this movie.

And in the wise words of my son, Chad, "the entire point of the movie is to teach a Christ like principle.... and they did it without being overly churchy.  Really cool."


mCat said...

Great review and your son is "spot on"

Anonymous said...

Hi, Loralee!
Just saw a link come in from your blog, and wanted to say how much we appreciate your giving us ("Two Heads Are Better Than One") a place of honor on your site.
My sister and I are honored.

Additionally, that was a very nice write-up you had on the movie version of Les Mis. I was fortunate enough to be able to see the original Broadway cast perform it back about 25 years ago. It was spectacular.
I would agree that the movie's characters were not as good as the original (singing-wise, at least), but it was nonetheless enjoyable and Ms. Hathaway in particular did an admirable job.

You may wish to pick up the Soundtrack for the original. You may find that you enjoy both.

Thanks again, and we hope to see you over at our place some time in the future.

All the best,