First of all, let me confess that I have never seen or read Les Misérables before.
Now that’s out of the way, let me say that this film takes musical movies to a whole new level. There is almost no spoken dialog and if you aren’t much of a fan of all-singing-all-dancing musicals, its unlikely this will change your mind.
This film seems to be splitting opinions, it’s long at two hours and 38 minute and although it didn’t happen in the showing I went to, I have heard quite a few have walked out of the screening.
Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter add some comedy and I quite liked ‘The Master of the House’ scene, but they are rather extravagantly dressed for poor innkeepers and are portrayed as bumbling thieves who will do anything to get by. When they are on screen it has the feeling of a different film, I became slightly detached from the emotional story at play.
There have been mixed feeling about Crowe’s portrayal of the role and his singing, I personally was a little worried when he first began singing, I wasn’t impressed, but it was far more tolerable part way through. I’m not sure if that was because he improved, or simply because I became accustom to it.
His portrayal of Javert was quite ridged, I understood he was dedicated to justice but it just didn’t move me. He was straight laced and lacked any insight into his thoughts, apart from wanting to catch Jean Valjean and bring him to justice. I was satisfied with his last scene, but more so due to the outcome, not the way Crowe played it.
If you are a die hard fan, you run the risk of your expectations being so high that you’ll come out disappointed no matter what. From what I gather, the film is slightly different from the stage show, some characters have a different edge to them and some lyrics have been tweaked.
I went in knowing nothing and not having any expectations, I enjoyed it but doubt I would watch it again. However, at the end of the fairly empty screening I attended there were applause. If you are interested in seeing this film, keep an open mind.