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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Les Miz

Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean

I was shanghaied into Les Misérables. I do not know about the rest of the audience, but I was très misérable.

Rarely do I enjoy plays made into films, and rarer yet do I like musicals made into films.
In the theater, actors of a human scale and size are dwarfed by large stages and great scenery. The only way these actors can transcend their size is Song; their voices and the music makes the action inflate to fill up the entire universe of the spectators, filling every nook and cranny.

That is not the function of Music and Song in the film, a medium in which the actors already appear to be great heads about 30 feet high.

The Song and Music perform no magic in the film. We may hum along and smile and are amused, but we are not for the most part entranced.

I mean, I like Anne Hatheway, but to see her close-up 40 foot head and 10 foot lips singing her farewell song was more than I could bear to look at and feel any human emotion other than an urge to flee... which I did... to the friendly Mens' Room; then I stood around the candy counter for a few; then I trudged back, like Jean Valjean,

Everybody was very good, and Hugh Jackman was superb, and he promises to be a great actor, not merely a very good one. The material, however, was not right. The film worked only from the rising of the barricades to the beginning of Cosette's wedding: images were conveying the story, not the music so much;
images and a flowing story.

I was bored by everything else. Little things flitted about, like whether that was Helena Bonham Carter or not. I saw Sacha Baron Cohen and mused whether 'twas Borat or not, and I remembered Bruno instead, which led to unfortunate montages.
The worst part was the fact that I had a hard time with the English singing voices at the volume it was set at. The very climax of disgust came with the introduction of the street urchin, Gavroche, who at the funeral of General Lamarque pops himself up upon the catafalque and sings in an indeterminate Englishy accent so thick that I really needed subtitles.
I mean, why in the name of heaven was I watching a film set in Paris and being totally befuddled by English-speaking actors?!!? I could have understood Françoise Hardy much more easily.

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