Ok, to start, I do not normally do this, ever. I don't want to be a film snob or anything, I love blockbusters, I don't watch a lot of indie films or anything so that I can show people how much I know about movies... but for Les Miserables my film major-ness really kicked in when I was watching it and then when I started seeing people's commentary I have so many things I want to say in response to them so I'm writing this, which no one will even read, but it'll make me feel better. I'm going to to address the things that people say about this film and give my own response.
I love the musical Les Mis. I have never read the book, I haven't seen the other movie. The first experience I had with Les Mis is going to see it in London this past summer and then listening to the songs a lot since I saw it. So that's where I'm coming from. Not a die hard fan, not emotionally attached, I just like it.
Complaint #1: The disclaimer
"I liked the movie, there were parts I didn't care for but in all it was good." and "It's so good except for the graphic rape scene" and "I have decided not to see this movie because I heard there's a graphic prostitute scene, I won't judge any of you who see it, but I will not. I'm so sad about this"
Did I miss something? Did we go see the same movie? For one, there was no rape scene, Fantine consents, it wasn't rape. And if you know the story at all you know that is what happens, why are you surprised? Two, what was graphic? I don't think I am past feeling on this by any means, I feel uncomfortable with sex scenes, always. I went to the movie with my mom and she didn't notice anything that made her feel uncomfortable... my mom, who feels so uncomfortable talking about such things that she was afraid to give us "the talk." We have been trying to figure out why people are so upset by this scene. It is hard to watch, but I think that the filmmakers did an amazing job with Fantine. I thought that entire part was completely necessary and it was handled in a very tasteful, reverent way. There was no skin, it wasn't glorifying, it didn't prolong anything longer than necessary. It took the time to show he descent and the decisions she made and why she made them. That's the most important thing, the why. You can see her pain and it's not easy to watch but I think that you take that journey with her and you feel the way she feels. At the end of scene with the captain you feel her despair because you went through it with her, making the song "I Dreamed A Dream" incredibly powerful. Can I just say how amazing that was? Anne Hathaway's performance there was mind blowing. Seriously, that song was all done in one shot. She sang that whole thing right in front of the camera with that much emotion. The emotion she put into the song, especially with the line "he took my childhood in his stride" mixed with the emotion you were already feeling was so powerful. One more thought, why are people dwelling on that part? There is so much more to the film, I didn't even remember that until everyone started these disclaimers like they are afraid of being judged if someone sees this part and remembers that they said they liked the movie and approved of it.
Complaint #2: The bored one
"The movie was so slow"
Slow does not mean bad. If you were expecting The Avengers, then yes, this film was slow but if you are expecting to see the musical Les Mis, this film moved just as fast as I remember the musical on stage going. The thing that makes this story so powerful is it takes the time to develop the characters so that you know exactly who they are, where they came from, and why they do the things they do. Every Javier, the "bad guy" of the film, you understand that he is just trying to do what he believes is right and his job so he can in no way be disliked for his actions. The theme of redemption cannot be shown quickly, it has to come with time and effort. I have a hard time with this complaint mostly because anyone who says this has no idea about slow films, try watching Fires on the Plain or Diary of a Country Priest and then we can talk.
Complaint #3: The singer
"The singing was not very good." and "Why was Russell Crowe in this movie?!"
I don't know much about the mechanics of singing or anything like that, I just like the songs from the musical a lot, but I thought the singing was great. I thought Russell Crowe sang really well for not really singing very much from what I know and I thought his song "Stars" was awesome. Except for the awkward position he was standing in during the last shot of that song, why were his arms sticking out like that? Was I the only one that noticed that? No, the actors were not broadway singers but if you want to see those kinds of singers than you should probably go see the actual play. Film acting is so much smaller than stage acting, I think those big voices would have been slightly overwhelming. It's hard for actors to go from one to another, Eponine (Samantha Barks) is a great exception, but I have seen stage people trying to tone it down for the camera and most of the time it doesn't work.
Those are the biggest three complaints that I've seen and I disagree with. I have one thing to say to the girls who keep posting statuses saying "I am Eponine." Please just stop. haha I understand relating to character, what girl hasn't liked someone who didn't like her back? But most of these 16 year old girls who are saying this are not seeing the complexity of the character who gives her life for love even though she knows he doesn't love her back and they are just saying that to try to get the attention of the guy that they feel like they've been friend-zoned by.
I wanted Enjolras' voice to be a little bit stronger. He was really really good in the movie but in the play he had a voice that was mesmerizing like the Phantom's that made you actually want to get up and fight with him. Wasn't it cool how he fell out the window and hung by one leg when he was killed in the same position that he dies in on the barricade in the play?
Eponine has the greatest dimples on her cheeks, I wish my dimples looked more like that haha
I don't like the Master of the House song. I didn't like it in London either. It's too much.
I'm amazed that those actors allowed themselves to look THAT bad on that big of screen. There were no glamour shots in this movie. None. They all looked horrible the whole time haha, and that made it so much more real and I loved that.
Russell Crowe still has a baby face to me.
The sewer part was so gross! But that helped it be more real.
Marius did a weird head shaking thing when he held long notes... thank goodness the editor noticed and cut to a different shot during all of his longer notes. (I don't normally notice editing, you're not supposed to, but when he was singing there were times when I wanted it to cut and then it did. I liked that.) His freckles were cute.