Film Confessions: Les Miserables (2012)

By Christian DiMartino

Since the Oscars are drawing near, I’m just gonna give it to you straight: They don’t always get it right. Let me just say that just because a movie seems like it should win Oscars, doesn’t mean it actually should. Case in point: Les Miserables.

Just last night, I reviewed Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street in my “Great Movies” segment. So, it seems like the perfect time for me to knock Les Miserables. But yet I cannot totally knock it. It’s a film that, clearly, worked for some people. I’m just not one of them. I found it easier to admire than actually enjoy.

It’s a lavish, big budgeted and ambitious musical from director Tom Hooper, who knocked it out of the park with The King’s Speech. He must be some sort of Oscar whisperer or something. I admire the film he conjured with Les Miserables, but trying to sit through it more than once is… yikes.

The film is based off of the classic Broadway musical that I never saw, and the classic novel by Victor Hugo… that I never read. It tells the story of Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman, in one of his best performances), a man sent to jail after stealing a piece of bread (?). He gets out (a little too easy if you ask me. Andy Dufresne had more of a struggle, you don’t see him singing about it), and then becomes… the mayor? Is that right?

Hot on his tail is Javert (a fat Russell Crowe), who has been trying to hunt him down for years. Valjean soon adopts the daughter of Fantine (Anne Hathaway, who shows up for the better part of the film), a French whore who bites the dust for some reason. Did she get a bad case of the clap? I don’t know, but she looks like crap. Either way, he adopts the girl and after being spotted by Javert, flees the scene again and then blah blah blah war blah blah blah death.

The lesbian fish known as Eddie Redmayne plays a leader in the French resistance, who falls for the daughter (Amanda Seyfried) years later, and totally leaves his poor lady friend in the friend zone (she’s also dying? What is this disease everyone is getting?). Once Hathaway bites the dust, the only thing that kept my interest was Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen, the Sweeney Todd alumni who steal the show as the masters of the house… the keepers of the inn.

Truth be told, once Hathaway went away, so did my interest. I always admired Les Miserables as a production, but I didn’t give a baker’s f**k about it. One of the things that irked me about it was the songs themselves. Sure, there are some good tunes in there. But yet a lot of the singing is like “speak-singing,” where they could easily just “speak.” Something like “I need to take a crap” normally wouldn’t require a music number, but yet Les Miserables, judging from the “dialogue,” would tell you otherwise.

Once the war kicks in, it’s boring. But even though I am knocking the movie, I can’t knock the hustle. Hooper is a man who knows what he’s doing, and the film is well made. It’s also extremely well acted and all. This film just simply isn’t for me. It’s a movie I didn’t enjoy, but yet I would recommend it to someone, because people out there obviously dig it.

I admire it, but I don’t care. But really, a Best Picture nomination? I guarantee you some of the Academy members regret not bringing a pillow to this thing. Whatever. I’m alone I guess.

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