Monday, December 31, 2012

LES MISÉRABLES - a never ending aria

Tom Hooper's Les Misérables was a musical treat but a hard film to enjoy and therefore sit through. A handful of lines are spoken—nearly the entire movie is sung solo. I mentioned in an earlier review that I thought Anna Karenina would have fared better as a tragic musical, I felt just the opposite for this film adaptation. 

I think I would have loved this movie if it would have been either fully dramatic live action or just part musical but as a nonstop melodious stage play it could not capture me. I felt kept at a distance, like the characters lived in fantasy world that I could not connect to. Most will remember the superb rendition in the late 90's starring Liam Neeson as Jean Valjean or perhaps the other seven in existence—maybe we didn't need another version like those...

I imagine those that adore the Broadway play may like this film as pure escapist delight. I will give honorable mention to at least one scene. Anne Hathaway nearly made me burst into tears as I viewed in wowed silence, her powerful soliloquy, delivered in a one shot master stoke of raw, emotive, self realized suffering and utter destitution. It showcased, for me, the power of lyrical song and strong emotion which, heretofore, had yielded nothing but a pleasant apathy. 

Les Misérables, Victor Hugo's perennial classic, has continued to enrapture audiences since its publication in 1862. As well it should. At once, an awesome story of revenge, love, redemption and forgiveness. I just can't believe that this new version was the best way to share those motifs with us. It was very well made and designed but somehow the spirit was lost in the artifice. Bode thee better in thee times immemorial and thee times yet to come. 

Recommended Viewing: Les Misérables (1998) - Les Misérables (1934) - The Hunchback... (1939)

              Bob Scale: The Critic: 7.5   -   The Fan: 6.4
             MetaCritic: 64
 Rotten Tomatoes: 72
                    IMDB: 8.2

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