... to see "Les Misérables", the movie that just opened on Christmas Day. If you loved the musical, you'll most certainly LOVE the movie. It's 2 hours and 38 minutes so don't drink a lot of fluids before you settle in. Trust me on that one.
What did I like?
- that it was very faithful to the musical (at least from what I remember)
- the casting was 'spot-on'. I hadn't read many reviews, nor did I know who else was in it other than Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Amanda Seyfried so I was thrilled to see Colm Wilkinson cast as The Bishop and Eddie Redmayne as Marius. And what genius casting Sasha Baron Cohen and Helen Bonham Carter as the Thénardiers!
- the closeups during the solos were great for being able to hear the lyrics clearly (and lip-reading if necessary). We weren't distracted by stuff in the background. A lot of times musicals are shot with a 'theatre' perspective and fall short. This was truly shot like a movie.
- the singing voices were all strong. I was surprised at how high Amanda Seyfried was able to sing and impressed with the clarity of her voice. I suspect she worked very hard with a vocal coach and it really paid off. I had heard that Hugh Jackman's singing was 'disappointing' (one reviewer) but I felt it got stronger as the movie and his role progressed. Young Cosette's "Castle on a Cloud" was exquisite.
- I liked that the music still makes me cry, particularly the finale of Act I, 'One Day More' with the whole ensemble, 'Bring Him Home', 'Empty Chairs at Empty Tables' the Wedding Chorale and Valjean's Death. The first time I saw the musical, I cried from the moment Gavroche was shot through to the end. The second time I saw it, I cried from the opening chords all the way through. There is something in the music that really resonates in me.
If you don't like musicals, you may not like the movie but it's not as contrived as most musicals are. Schönberg and Boublil's music and lyrics (albeit the English translations) have certainly withstood the test of time. Most of the dialogue is sung 'recitative'-style. I felt the live singing was very courageous on the parts of all concerned and worked very effectively. The songs had to be done in one take - not an easy feat. It has been criticized as 'bombastic' but how else can the assault on a barricade be portrayed? Even if you're not a lover of musicals, I think you'd enjoy many aspects of the movie.
I sure wish I could find my soundtrack CDs. I can't remember the last time I saw them. 20 years ago perhaps? Eeek!
I predict that with the success of this musical as a movie, we will be seeing others hit the big screen in the not-too-distant future. When Hollywood finds a formula that works, everyone jumps on the bandwagon.
I didn't knit a single stitch today or take a single picture.