My SO and I went to see Les Miserable yesterday.
Neither of us had ever seen the musical on stage.
My SO thought it was a good film.
Just as background, I think the worst musical of all time is CATS - I loathed that show with every fiber of my being. Les Miserable is better than CATS - but only by a whisker.
For me, after about 20 minutes, I was hoping someone would please just put me out of Les Misery.
Every song seems to have been written in the highest range of every singer - so imagine the thrill of listening to people sing - for hours, mind you - straining to hit the very tip-top of their vocal range.
Add to that the joy of every song sounding exactly the same as every other song and you have hours and hours of the same damed song, with only slight variances throughout - it was the equivalent of a bunch of drunks singing “100 bottles of beer on the wall” over and over again.
I will admit that this film will be required viewing by students for decades to come - no, not musical theater students; it will be required of dermatology and dental students. The director just LOVES close ups, and I do mean CLOSE ups. Moles and molars - that’s what you get to see. You could really zero in on every blemish and try to guess if that mole was benign or not. You could also see if most actors had silver or gold filings and see who had caps on their teeth and if there were any signs of gum disease. Put that on an 80 foot screen and you can literally see ingrown hairs on Russel Crowe’s face. Gee, was that fun.
I pity the poor set designers who probably spent months designing and building intricate sets, accurate in every detail, only to have the director pan over those sets so fast you couldn’t tell if the furniture was from IKEA. By about the last 10 minutes of the film, when you are finally allowed to see some panoramic views of outside and daylight, you feel like you have to put on sunglasses for the glare of the light.
I had heard I should bring a box of tissues along for the copious tears I was going to shed during the course of this film. I used those tissues to wipe some butter off my armrest. Anne Hathaway emoted and wept (perhaps thinking of her dismal performance at that Oscar hosting job, and hoping to get another chance to stand on stage at the Oscars) and Hugh Jackman tried his best to make these lyrics sound like Sondheim, knowing full well they were more like lyrics from Dr. Seuss. Even Helen Bonham Carter showed up in her Sweeney Todd costume and seemed to be trying to find Johnny Depp in the crowd somewhere.
Call me heartless and unfeeling, but as characters died and fell by the wayside, I kept hoping that would be the end of this film/musical - but with a cast of thousands, it took forever for them to bite the final baguette.
I really do like Broadway musicals, and have worked in the theater, performed in stage shows, and used to see almost every show in NYC when I lived there. I also like many filmed versions of Broadway musicals - most recently I thought the filmed version of Chicago was great and yes, I even liked the filmed version of Sweeney Todd.
I suspect I would probably not have liked Les Miserable even on the stage. That said, this filmed version has ensured I will never bother seeing a staged version of Les Miserable in my lifetime. I pity the poor schmucks who worked on the live, Broadway version of Les Mis and had to hear it over and over again, night after night, for years. At some point, they probably started to envy their colleagues who worked on CATS.