Underwhelmed: a review of Les Miserables

I know that, at a few months back, I had marvelled and said that I was pretty sure that Les Miserables by Tom Hooper was going to be stellar. I said that from the trailer alone, of Anne Hathaway singing I Dreamed a Dream, I knew that this movie was going to be epic. I think I even mentioned that I practically creamed my pants just listening to that version.

I dreamed a dream of Anne Hathaway singing her heart out in Les Mis; unfortunately, she was the only one (and Eddie Redmayne) who did it well

I dreamed a dream of Anne Hathaway singing her heart out in Les Mis; unfortunately, she was the only one (and Eddie Redmayne) who did it well

Well, to my utter dismay, I was wrong. Yes, Anne Hathaway was fantastic, amazing, and blew me away, and her version of I Dreamed a Dream was perfect; it was gut-wrenching and emotional and pulled me from all sides just as I wanted it to; but the film, as a whole, did nothing for me. I was underwhelmed. I was completely underwhelmed and I felt really bad about that.

I wrote my review in Juice about it. You can read it here: Les Miserables: An Underwhelming Adaptation from Stage to Screen. It is sad, really, because I had high hopes for it. I feel the fault was primarily the direction which did not capture the spectacle of the stage play, which I’ve never seen, but because I have watched several videos of the tenth and twenty-fifth anniversary concert, I understand the concept of seeing all those singers on stage can create that largeness of scope. Under the scrutiny of a camera, it focuses the narrative strongly on one character, rather than the whole, and this is where all the flaws start to come out.

It’s all there in my review, if you want. You can hate me now for saying what I did. In retrospect, I wish I had praised Anne Hathaway more because I thought she was the best thing in the whole production, should have given more credit to Eddie Redmayne who did a wonderful portrayal of Marius; unfortunately, the scope of the film only managed to show us what a frivolous, shallow little boy Marius truly is. I should have talked more about how disappointing Russell Crowe was as Javert because his voice quality was not on the same performance level as everybody else’s, and since the film was devoid of dialogue, they needed a good singer to properly convey the emotional weight of each song.With Crowe failing to capture the majesty of Stars, one of my favourite songs in the musical, his Javert ended up falling flat, and someone we cannot sympathise with.

The orchestration was wonderful, but having watched it in Powerplant, Rockwell, for some reason, our cinema did not have the largeness of speakers; either that or it couldn’t make it to the end of the cinema which is where I was unfortunately place. If I could have been enveloped by the music, it might have made the experience better for me; but then again, no, not really, because if it were as loud as I wanted it to be, I would have been more annoyed by Russell Crowe’s inability to carry his parts and the inconsistency of Hugh Jackman.

I really wanted this to work. I really did. Maybe I expected too much; but after seeing The King’s Speech, I thought Tom Hooper would have the cinematic know-how to make it work. But he didn’t. Thank God for Anne Hathaway because she made it all worth it for me in the end. Too bad her song came in at the beginning of the film. It was all downhill for me after that.


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