I’ve not been as active on this blog for a while, so now that my NCTJ media law exams are out of the way (not too bad, thanks for asking!) I thought I’d just write a little piece about the film I saw last Thursday…
When I heard rumours about the dodgy singing in this film, I thought the whole thing was going to turn out to be a disappointment. And I really didn’t want my beloved ‘Les Mis’ to be presented in a shabby manner, at the risk of turning away new potential fans. I’m glad to say that the singing, although evidently not as good as the original cast recordings, did not detract too much from the film overall.
Although I wouldn’t consider myself a “fan of musicals”, Les Misérables is one that has been with me for my whole life. From a very young age I remember watching a VHS recording of the 10th Anniversary concert with my sister… mainly to laugh at the funny-looking ‘master of the house’, with his crazy yellow socks, and the comical notion of raising a glass “up the Master’s arse” as suggested during Master of the House.
Obviously we had little/no idea what the rest of the story was on about – the accusations of prostitution, living conditions in 19th century France, the historical relevance of the revolt, and so on – but that wasn’t really the point. For my young self, and my even younger sister (Hi Anna!), it was just hilarious because the Thénardiers pratted about so stupidly.
Seeing the show in the West End in 2004/05 made all the difference though; a little older and wiser, I was able to appreciate the whole story for what it is. I wonder if my existing love for the story, before seeing the film, skewed my perception of the film at all. I rarely bother with long movies such as this, unless I am really keen to see it. And to be honest, the 158 minutes didn’t even seem to drag, to its credit! And, since I’m so rubbish at identifying actors and actresses (seriously, I don’t know anything, even the most ‘famous’ thespians), I wonder how long it would’ve taken me to realise that Prisoner-Valjean and Good-Guy-Valjean was the same guy, since Hugh Jackman looked so different with and without his beard, as far as I was concerned. I suppose we’ll never know…
Anyway, the film was really good. Maybe not quite five stars (better singing may well have made all the difference), but still pretty close. Obviously – as everyone else has already said – Anne Hathaway’s role as Fantine was incredible, and Samantha Barks (Éponine) was impressive in her debut film role too. But to be honest, all of the parts were played well. The whole bloody lot. Also, credit to the child actors, particularly young Daniel Huttlestone who played the part of the inexplicably-cockney Gavroche with great audacity. As mentioned by many others, Russell Crowe’s singing was perhaps not up to scratch, but he played the part well enough. And in any case, as pointed out by my friend Helen, perhaps his lacklustre voice added to his portrayal of the stern character, Inspector Javert.
So, yep, that’s about it. I don’t really know what more to say (I’m not a film critic, after all), except that this is definitely a film worth seeing. Even if you’re not a fan of musicals, the underlying story is fantastic (and the accompanying songs are particularly good anyway, even if the singing could be improved). To those who have already seen it and wished for better singing, then I strongly suggest looking up one of the original London cast recordings. Although my personal favourite is the original cast recording (1985), the 10th- and 25th-anniversary soundtracks are good too.
Whether you’re a long-time fan or a newcomer, Les Misérables is definitely a film/soundtrack/performance worth watching/listening to/attending!
“At The End Of The Day” from the 10th Anniversary edition. Feel the power!