Les Misérables

The apparition of these faces in the crowd …
–Pound, “In a Station of the Metro”

Yes, this really is an opera rather than a musical, in that there are few spoken lines. A handful of scenes approach an operatic feel, especially the trio with the young tenor (Eddie Redmayne), soprano (Amanda Seyfried), and mezzo (Samantha Barks). The music itself, though, is unremarkable. No one is going to go home humming any of it (well, maybe “On My Own”). All the opera houses have supertitles now–subtitles would have helped here, or room in the budget for a diction coach.

Hugh Jackman’s part was too high for him–especially in the second half of the film, where he was straining with his head voice, it was a bit painful to watch. A just transposition could have worked wonders. Russell Crowe burst past his low expectations. His role called for no singing fireworks, but he excelled in the limited range that he had.

The inn scene with Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter was a welcome change from the dour mood of the first half hour, but it didn’t need to be so . . . gross.

The film relies heavily on CGI, so that Paris resembles Minas Tirith (complete with a statue of an Oliphaunt). Scenes are generally very dark; perhaps only about 20 percent of the screen time is in daylight.

Anne Hathaway’s part was cut as short as her hair, so that she played not a character, but a statistic.

And on the hair–not to give away the ending, but it could be pointed out that the blessed will rise again at the age of youth, as Christ did.

 

Barricade18March1871

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