While most people woke up early on Christmas morning to open presents and spend time with family, I was up getting ready for the noon premiere of the musical Les Misérables. I have had a strong connection with this musical, and it was the first professional production I saw. When I found out last summer that the world renown depiction of the French revolution was coming to the silver screen, my excitement could hardly be contained.
Les Misérables consists of powerful ballad after ballad, and a mixture of history, action, faith, civil law, and romance. There is something for everyone to enjoy.
On Christmas, my family and I packed in tight to a sold out show at Starplex Cinemas. Though it was hot, cramped, and eventually uncomfortably long after not having an intermission, the performance was so powerful and artfully done, that everyone in the theater applauded when the final credits came on.
As blown away as I was by the movie, I was disappointed when I came home and saw many of my peers posting on facebook about how the singing disappointed them. Granted, the vocal talent in the movie was lacking compared to the 2010 Les Misérables Concert: The 25th Anniversary performance that is frequently played on PBS. But to compare a film to an onstage musical is an apples and oranges comparison.
Going into the movie and expecting to be awed by the singing is only setting yourself up for disappointment, just as going to an onstage production and expecting great acting would be. The film presents the opportunity to portray more of the raw emotions the characters experienced and show how miserable everyone was.
As Anne Hathaway played Fantine, she sang in a fairly weepy and soft tone. I might not want to listen to a recording of this later, but combined with the visual, Broadway quality singing would make the scene would be less effective and convincing.
I will admit that after Hugh Jackman butchered Jean Valjean’s show stopping ballad “Bring Him Home,” I turned to my dad and said “well, that was pretty bad.” I reminded myself in the car on the way home that The 25th Anniversary Concert will always be there for the musical aspect, but with literally no acting.
Amanda Seyfried exceeded my personal expectations, and, for once, I sympathized with the character Cossette, who, until the movie, always seemed like the lucky girl who doesn’t have to struggle for anything. Seyfried portrayed Cossette’s concern and love for Marius, played by Eddie Redmayne.
As for teenagers who don’t feel any connection or desire to see a tragic musical, there is an aspect of comedy in Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen as the Thénardiers. They hilariously display the two possibly most even characters in the entire production, and offer a great amount of comic relief in the tragedy.
Despite the critics who claim that the poor singing is the downfall of this film, the movie lives up to and exceeds expectations in its own performance realm.