Friday, February 8, 2013

Movie: Les Miserables

My rating on a 1-10 scale: 8.5…I think…

Genre: Classic, musical, life, adventure

Primary actors: Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Russell Crowe

Length: Just over two and a half hours

Based on: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Time period: 1800s (early, possibly with a touch of 1700s)

Year it came out: 2012
My overall opinion: I didn’t know what I would think of it going in. I was 75% sure it wouldn’t be my new favorite movie – I like happy movies, and I knew (even without knowing the story line) that LesMis wasn’t. But it was a chance to hang out with two of my best friends for an evening, while seeing a movie that a lot of people were saying was really good…so I went.

What did I think? I’m still not sure, as you can see by my rating. Some of it was amazing…some I didn’t like nearly so much. But overall, I am not opposed to seeing it again someday.

Warning: if you haven’t seen it yet, please don’t read this review. I’m awful about spoilers. Watch it first, then read this. Please skip to the bottom and look for the blue font to see my warnings and overall impression -- should you see it?

Now that we have that done with…and you’d better not be reading anymore now if you haven’t seen it!

On to my opinions. They are an utterly random assortment of the thoughts I remembered after the movie. So if you have something in mind I didn’t mention…ask me. Oh, also? I haven’t (this is embarrassing) read the book. Really. And right now? I do not have time for a book that size. But someday, when my life slows down a bit (does it ever do that again?) I will read it. Promise.

Other warning: this is turning out to be super long, probably the longest review I’ve ever written…skim as needed. And comment. As you read. :) I will reply! 

NOW. As stated, no order. Opening scene! Fascinating. Amazing. Unbelievable. That big boat being towed with pure man-power into a gigantic dock? I didn’t think they built docks that size in the 1800s. Or boats. Ummm, ships. Either way. That scene…I really liked it. A lot. Incidentally, the song there was also amazing…Look Down.

Before I continue, let me take a quick side-track about the music. Point 1: I know it’s supposed to be a musical. Point 2: I loved some of the songs, and they’re still running through my head – impressive. Point 3 (aka the Clincher): I thought there was too much singing. Every time I turned around…there was another song. Not that I was literally turning around…but, well, you know what I mean. For me, the songs got old after a bit. That being said, as stated, I really liked some of them! I’ll come to more on that presently.

There were six (count ‘em, six) dramatic deaths. Like I mentioned, I’m a happy movie person. Bright, cheerful, everybody happy, and not too much stupid romantic drama. So deaths really aren’t my thing! And these! I’ll say more about the rating presently, but I’d say the film definitely earned its PG-13 rating. It did end up feeling like person after person was keeling over dead…or falling to their death…or being shot…but I understand that that’s the way the book goes and the movie must, of course, follow the book – I wouldn’t wish it otherwise.

My favorite female? Nope, not Anne Hathaway. In fact, Fantine  really wasn’t a favorite character for me. Stop! Side-track. We’re going to talk about her and her character right here, right now, before we get to my favorite girl. I’m afraid I wasn’t exceptionally fond of Anne as Fantine. Admittedly, I don’t know what Fantine is supposed to be like, having no prior experience of the story…hmmm. Anne has a lovely voice, to be sure, but…I think her personality, her character, they’re meant for light flitty films. Her as a heavy tragic character? For me, it didn’t really work. As to her singing I Dreamed a Dream…well, we’ll come to that. (I made a list and am mostly going by that. ;)

Anyway, favorite female. Was Eponine. Yup. For some reason, I really liked her…which sounds weird. I guess I connected a lot better with her than with Fontaine. Her song, On My Own, was amazing. Possibly my favorite in the whole movie. And she was my favorite character! I don’t know what it was about her… But anyway. She was awesome, I thought. Her smile is so sweet! Even though she really is a tragic character, I suppose.

Randomly, I wasn’t very fond of Cosette either. As a child, yes, I liked her. Sweet voice, sweet girl. But once she grew up…I think she mostly just bugged me, somehow. Equally randomly, the whole scene under the city was amazing. And disgusting. Because sewage is. But equally amazing. That huge complex…wow. This scene, like the opening one, fascinated me. And also randomly, because this paragraph is the random one…those guns? Wow. Scary. My first thought when I saw them shot was “Ummm…dangerous! Those guns are dangerous!” Now, I’m not one of those most unfortunate people who has a fear of guns – on the contrary, I own one and enjoy shooting. No, that thought was because they fire and fire quite literally goes everywhere! Very dangerous. And I’m glad I wasn’t shooting one. And that thought…it made me smile. Because the second part was that “someone’s going to get hurt!” Which was kinda the whole purpose of those guns in the first place…

This…is really long. I wasn’t expecting to be quite this wordy. But I have days when I can rattle off an entire book without thinking twice – today, for example. ;)

My other favorite characters? I take that back. They weren’t favorites, not really. But I, again, was fascinated! They were most interesting, intriguing too. Know who I mean yet? That’s right, Cosette’s evil and scheming guardians, Messieur and Madame Thenardier. They were unbelievable. And dreadful. And very interesting. I loved…that’s not the right word. I thought it was really cool how they stole from everyone. I mean, it was awful, to be sure…but also really cool.

I did really like the two young patriots, Marius and Enjorlas...pretty awesome guys! :) And I did include these few lines just so I could include a picture.

And now! A few paragraphs about the songs. Firstly, the one song I knew going into this film…I Dreamed a Dream. As y’all ought to know, Susan Boyle had great success with this one a few years back. Remember? If you don’t, go look it up and listen. To be quite frank, I definitely prefer Susan’s version over Anne’s. In all fairness, I’ve loved Susan’s for years. But at the same time, I think her voice was perfect it. Rich, strong, vibrant. Anne has a “sweet” voice, much higher and lighter. I didn’t like it much, though Anne did a good job, I admit. I enjoyed the way that the song theme was worked into the movie a few other times…as stated, it was the only song I knew ahead, so my ears recognized it each time. :) I also “enjoyed” the extra verse added…extra only because Susan doesn’t sing that part.

The whole Lovely Ladies song and scene…most memorable. Quite horrible, really, when you think about it…not in film terms, but just the conditions that they’re in. And what’s going on. But I don’t think you’ll find yourself forgetting it anytime soon! Rather disturbing. I can’t imagine how much work the film-makers put into that sequence. Incidentally? Some of that was way too disgusting for me. Just saying. (I’m referencing the teeth-pulling…more about everything else presently.)

Two more songs I want yet to mention. The first is One Day More. Wow. That scene was just plain cool. Was it just me, or did pretty much the entire cast get to sing parts of that? It was so neat to see everyone that way! At the same time, I did find it a little disconcerting…all these people, all different places, all singing this song? I know, I know, that’s what musicals do…still bugged me.

The second song to mention is Do You Hear the People Sing? And THAT is the song that has been stuck in my head ever since. It’s catchy. And sad. And amazing. [[Addition: 24 hours after writing this, as I quickly read over to proof it…just reading the title starts the song in my head! THAT is the sign of a good song.]] [[Other addition: At the End of the's more enjoyable every time I listen to it.]]

Now, the touchy topics…the PG-13 content. Like I said earlier, there was quite enough to earn it a PG-13 rating, I thought. Many of the dresses had extremely low necklines (no doubt accurate for the period and country and people) and there was some other stuff of that sort as well…I’d really rather not talk about it, so just go HERE to read about it on IMDB. And then there was also the gore aspect…the producers didn’t skimp on the blood and gore and violence content. So be warned – this time period was very violent, and this movie portrays it clearly. Be careful.

I have completed my list! All this, by the way, was written in just under 45 minutes. :) Not counting the editing, videos, or pictures. Which I’ll add later. Oh, random note...I just barely made it without any crying -- BARELY. My eyes were wet for the last scene...but my makeup (which I had forgotten that I wasn't going to wear) was intact.

Finally, Les Mis fans, you'll want to check out the fancy photos taken for Vogue! There are only eight, but they're awesome. Go here.

My overall opinion for those of you who haven't seen it yet? Worth watching, but use caution. Not for young viewers, or the faint of heart. Overall, I liked it in most parts and if you've enjoyed the book, this movie/musical is worth a try. :)
Back to you. If you've seen it, what did you think? Love it, hate it, not sure? What else do you want my opinion on? What did you disagree with my thoughts on? Have you posted your review yet? (I’d love to see it…leave me a link and I’ll come read it) Comment, sil vous plait!


Rissi said...

I wasn't thrilled with this version, Charity. Much prefer the 90's version which is way more dramatic in its messages about forgiveness/redemption as opposed to this one. Having said that, this one was "pretty" but lacked the same emotional much due to its decision to sing the entire film rather than break for dialogue.

Amanda and Anne were phenomenal though in their singing.

In the end, I'll see it again but probably won't be buying it.

Katelyn said...

The movie as a whole could have been better, but I still enjoyed it, especially the closing scene. I had a few tears trickling down as the credits rolled.

The songs were WONDERFUL! 'Do You Hear the People Sing?' and 'Red and Black' are still playing in my head- and I saw it 4 days after it cam out! Just goes to show what a good song does to you...

Hugh Jackman's song "Who Am I' was another favorite. I had no idea he had such a good voice. Only a few days later, while reading a review of the movie, did I discover that, as a young boy, he played Gavroshe in the Sydney Opera House's production. Russell Crowe has also done some musical theater in the past.

Trivia: The girl who played Eponine in the movie also plays her in the musical. Did you know that?

Thanks for the review!

Jennifer said...

I like reading your comments since you don't have much previous knowledge of the storyline. People who have read the book (I have only read a small part of it) are very opinionated, of course, about how "their" characters are portrayed.

Before seeing this version, I knew the storyline completely and had seen the Liam Neeson movie several times. I wasn't "in love" with that movie because it cuts so much out (like the entirety of Eponine's character). With this version I felt the same way, but obviously a 48+ hour version in order to keep every part of the book is not feasible. Like I said, I haven't read the entire book, but what I have read so far gives much more detail than either movie.

I didn't really like the singing of the lines, but the actual songs were amazing. "Red and Black" and "One More Day" are my favorites, I think.

Honestly, I don't know why so many people are dissing on Russell Crowe as Javert. I loved him! And his final scene is so powerful and eerie.

I thought Fantine's scene as a prostitute was...not tasteful. But I guess they weren't really going for "tasteful" and were trying to show a more realistic perspective, which they did a pretty good job of because those few scenes were really disgusting (everyone so dirty, the leering gazes, ick...).

Sorry this is long! I really enjoyed reading your thoughts. :)

Bethy said...

I have to say I loved it.
I'm actually glad it was all sung. If they had been trying to make a movie of the book it would be annoying. But they weren't. They were making a film of the musical, so naturally you expect all the dialouge to be sung!

I love Éponine too! I was so sad when she died
I'm a real sucker for musicals so I find it much easier to get into a story emotionally when music is involved!
I have seen a movie version of the book and I liked it, but I much prefer this film!

I love Marius in the musical, in the book (so far) he's a bit pathetic!

Beth xxx

Eva said...

Ok...I don't think I've ever commented on your blog (except maybe for giveaways) but I've made it a personal goal to stop 'lurking' and comment way more frequently on posts that come up on my dashboard. So, here I am :) Anyway, this is a post about my biggest obsession and although I don't agree with everything you said (more on that later), I always love discussing Les Mis =)

For simply must read the book m'dear as quickly as possible. It's AMAZING - of course, I could just be biased, but... ;) Another thing - I haven't watched the movie yet, but I've learned lots and lots of things about it through friends who have seen it and I've listened to the soundtrack a gazillion times, so...

Ok...too much singing I can understand although, personally, I just know I'm going to love it (partly because I just love almost all the cast's voices) but I totally understand how that could be a problem for some people.

6 dramatic deaths. Um, yeah. I'm going to be emotionally dead by the end of the film. Actually, in the book there are 17 deaths (although they're not all dramatic and some of them are 'off camera', so to speak).

Fantine is not my favorite female character although I still love her to bits...and I personally thought her version of 'Dream' was the best, hands down, no questions asked. The amount of emotion she puts into it is just amazing and her voice is pure gorgeousness.

Eponine...BING! BING! BING! I don't think you're weird at all for liking Eponine better than Cosette or Fantine because that's how she is in my estimation as well :)

And now for Cosette...adjusts my cap that reads Defender Of Mostly Hated Literary Characters. Little Cosette is sweet and cute. Something we can agree on. BUT, she doesn't bug me at all (maybe because I could totally see myself hanging out with her). Sure, she's more protected and sheltered and girly than Eponine, but she is the driving force behind the plot, she's a really sweet girl and she has some cute songs. And once you read the book, you'll discover so much more depth to her, trust me :)

You only included two lines about Marius and Enjolras! HOW DARE YOU?! Kidding. But seriously, I consider Enjolras and the Les Amis (his friends, if you didn't know) one of the best parts of the book and the musical. And Eddie as Marius is going to be brilliant.

Lovely Ladies will be a fast-forward scene for me but I did learn an interesting fact about that scene. When Fantine's getting her hair cut, the woman who cuts her hair is actually a guy dressed as a woman - it's Anne Hathaway's personal hair stylist :) I thought that was pretty cool :)

One Day More is amazing. Just sayin'. And yes, every cast member (except Fantine) sings in it. And DYHTPS? could very well be the best song in the entire musical - and it certainly is the theme song of the story. The lyrics and tune just make my heart soar. The first bit of At The End Of The Day (when all the workers are singing) always gives me chills.

Well...I think this is the longest comment I've ever left :) Vive la France! Vive Les Miserables!


Alexandra said...

Ok, so as a musical fanatic and as Les Mis is one of my favorite musicals, it was definitely my favorite film of the year, barring none. However, I can totally see how someone who wasn't into musicals could have a problem with it. :) Anyway, I loved it!

Jazzie said...

I am a massive Les Mis fan so I'll always find ways to defend it - but I agree with you about some of the parts that weren't so great, and about Cosette - the character isn't fantastic and whilst I do like Amanda Seyfried, I don't think she did the part justice at all. Wonderful review, and I like seeing someone who isn't in love with it reviewing it so fairly (some reviewers for newspapers got facts wrong and said plain unfair things!) Really good to read :D

Charity U said...

ALL COMMENTERS: any of you interested in posting on here about either Les Mis or Hobbit? I'm looking for a few guest posters. If you're interested, let me know via comment or email.

Yay, replies! Here we go...this may take several comments, so if yours isn't posted yet, keep an eye out.

RISSI -- You're right about this one being "pretty"...I know what you mean. Well, it wasn't really pretty, but very well made. It seems like a lot of people would have preferred a tad more dialogue, less singing. I think I also agree with you about seeing it again but not buying it. As to the 90s version...I see Liam Neeson is in it. I think I'd like to see that at some point! Will definitely review it if I do. :) Glad you commented!

KATELYN, it was the closing scene that almost made me cry...I barely made it through some parts, though. :P It was pretty amazing, and definitely VERY touching. Ah, I had forgotten about "Red and Black" but you made me go there's a song that's got a ton of strength to it. Okay, now I wanna see the musical know I liked Eponine. :) How interesting that Hugh Jackman had been in a Les Mis before! That's cool. :) Thanks for commenting!

JENNIFER, I love long comments. Yours delighted me in its length! Ah, I know of some other books that could use 48 hour movies...someday! ;) I too thought Javert was AMAZING. I actually almost liked him from the beginning...or maybe it was just really sorry for him. But yeah, really good. You're exactly right about Fantine's Pretty Ladies scene...not tasteful, but frightfully realistic. Which, yes, is what they were going for. And there is something to be said for a movie staying realistic! I will work on the book someday! :)

Eva said...

Oooh, yes - I'd love to post about Les Mis. Maybe a book review? You can email at and we could work out some details :)

Charity U said...

BETHY, glad you liked it! Me too...I think. Yeah, pretty sure. I can see how some people would really like all the singing. There was some really good music! I've been listening to the songs a lot on youtube ever since. :) And I agree...Marius was awesome!

EVA -- hooray! Longest comment I've ever gotten, pretty sure. How fitting that it's on my longest review! You made my day. :) Discussing my favorite movies is a favorite thing of mine too! The book...yes, I really do need to read it. I'll get my hands on it someday! Like I said, listening to the songs on youtube. Just now, "Empty Chairs and Empty Tables." Such a sad song. :(
Yes, technically I almost said 7 dramatic deaths, but one was mostly off-camera, so. But no doubt there were more...just not as dramatic, so I don't remember them. I've gotta disagree with you about Anne's "Dream," but hey...we can agree to disagree. ;)
Eponine...oh good, you agree! Maybe she really is better. I wish we'd seen more of her. You might not like Cosette as much in the movie...that may have been my main problem with her, more the actor than the girl. I might love her in the book, who knows?
I couldn't think of enough fandom to give Marius and they only got a sentence or two. I mean, I could've raved on and on, but...this review was long enough as is. HOWEVER. They were distinctly awesome.
How interesting about Fantine's hair! Who knew? All those, so amazing. I'm loving it. :)
Loved your comment and hope you see this reply...also hope to see you around more! ;)

Charity U said...

ALEXANDRA, thanks for commenting and glad you liked it! I did still like "Hobbit: an Unexpected Journey" quite a bit better, but since it's more my genre of film, that's to be expected. ;)

JAZZIE, thanks for your kind words. I had a feeling some people might find my perspective more interesting since I had originally not planned to see it in theaters, and had NO prior knowledge of the story. Hate it so much when someone big (like a newspaper) gets a fact wrong about something I'm knowledgeable about! Like I told Jennifer farther up (you might want to read her comment, third from the top) it was very much going for the "realistic" as opposed to "proper." Not that I'm saying that's good...just that I get why they did it. Make any sense? Thanks again for commenting!

Hamlette said...

I love Eponine! So much more interesting than Cosette, more relatable than the Fantine. I loved Samantha Barks' performance and hope to see her in more things.

I sing "One Day More" more than any other song from this musical. It's so nuanced and amazing, how it shows all these different story lines weaving together. Brilliant.

I read the book once, between college semesters, so more than 10 years ago. Feel perfectly free to skim the 30+ pages on the history of the Paris sewers. And a lot of the stuff about the battle of Waterloo. Most people do, don't feel bad :-) That said, the book is much richer and more complex than any movie can hope to be, so I hope you get to read it one day!

Hannah America said...

I absolutely loved everything about the movie. My parents thought there was much more violence than what was needed (especially the scene when little Gavroche was shot, they didn't like that at all), but I think it was necessary to tell the story well. All of the singers were amazing.

Katelyn said...

I would be interested in doing a review. But I would need to see them again, or it would mostly be about my impressions. For some reason, I remember more about Les Mis than The Hobbit. Probably because I was down in the VERY front for Hobbit and it was a little blurry at times. Definitely need to see that again before doing a review.

Charity U said...

HAMLETTE, seems like quite a few people have loved Eponine! You're spot on with your observations about her. "One Day More" is such a stick-in-your-head song! It's still playing in mine. ;) Sewers are interesting (in a disgusting way) but for 30 pages? Don't know that I'd read that. And battles can certainly get old fast. :P I certainly do hope to read it someday!

HANNAH, there was quite a bit of violence, but it doesn't seem...forcibly added, so to speak. Inserted to draw more viewers (in a perverted way) or whatever. It seemed "right." However, there were a few scenes I didn't really enjoy, accurate as they were. How can you enjoy it, after all?

KATELYN, impressions are fine if you think you can make a post out of them! And if you'd like to do Les Mis, that's fine too. Bummer about Hobbit...that's not a movie to see wrong. If you're still interested, email me: charityu.austenite[at]gmail[dot]com :)

KayM said...

Thank you for warning about the spoilers. I am looking forward to seeing this movie, as I loved the book. I thought your long review with pictures was very nice.