Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Good, the Bad, and the Miserables

To avoid ranting, I'll structure this review as a series of letters to the cast and creative team. Let's remember that British musicals are a marathon-not a sprint.

Tom Hooper:

First of all, let me get this out of the way, how dare you take way the beloved turntable! And I don't care what they did in the fourth National Tour! Les Miz without the turntable is like Phantom without the chandelier or Evita without the descamisados. Those panoramic shots were gorgeous, but the close ups were too much and too often. If I wanted to see Anne's pores that closely, I'd become a dermatologist. And kudos on moving "I Dreamed a Dream" to the emotional climax of Fantine's story. I'm not saying that this is your fault, but I just realized that there is nothing thought provoking at all in this story. I really prefer a show that has a controversial lead character or at least something that I can wrestle with for a few days. It is very easy to sympathize with all of these characters, so I left the theatre feeling, well, nothing. 

Hugh Jackman:

Your singing was glorious as we expected, but where was the change in your character? Sorry, but pacing back and forth during confession isn't going to do it for me. You phoned it in dear, and as this was not a Jerry Lewis telethon, I wasn't amused. 

Anne Hathaway:

I have so many feelings about this performance. You aren't Patti LuPone so you had those odds stacked against you from jump street. However, you did everything in your power to change my mind. Normally for me, Fantine IS the song. Fantine is "I Dreamed A Dream" and that's it. But you dear, you made her into a fully developed character with a full arc. Brava! I won't comment on your method acting but you'll have Hollywood in the palm of your hand after cutting your hair and dropping those 25 lbs. Congratulations ahead of time on your Oscar. The most interesting thing about your portrayal was that it felt so modern. Your Fantine was so relatable outside of the context of the story. Brava again for that. I can't say I agree with those who say your performance was raw because of all that overacting. My final word is this. Thank goodness that scenery was digitally enhanced since you chewed it up.

Russell Crowe:

Thanks so much for ruining Stars for me, but then again it's not your faul that they cast a non-singer in one of the greatest baritone roles in the musical theatre. I wish your Javert had committed suicide earlier and your only redeeming quality was giving your medal to Gavroche.

Eddie Redmayne:

Thank you so much for taking a stock character and making something beautiful out of it. Usually Marius shows up, falls in love, nearly dies, gets married, and that's about it. But you did so much more. I genuinely felt your inner-struggle as you were pulled from Eponine to Cosette and from your love to your friends and the cause. I have never given Empty Chairs at Empty Tables a second thought until your stirring rendition. This is the one moment where I enjoyed Tom Hooper's gratuitous use of the close-up. That song was the best I've seen in a movie musical since Julie Andrews twirled on a hilltop in The Sound of Music. Bravo dear, you are a bonafide star!

Amanda Seyfried:

You were given a role with no depth whatsoever and you did the best you could have done. Your singing was crystal clear and it was refreshing to hear a proper vibrato. I can imagine how boring it must have been to play that role while your costars were singing showstoppers and it made me wonder why I ever dreamed of playing that role.

Samantha Barks:

You, my dear, were perfection. I chose A Little Fall of Rain for the cover photo of this because that scene was the gem of the production. That was my favorite moment of the film. I always leave this show saying "Poor Eponine" because she is such a sympathetic character, but you worked girl. On My Own is such an easy song to over-sing and we've all heard it 10,000 times so it could've easily seemed trite. However, you put your own, fresh touches on it and really developed the character. You didn't over-act it and you didn't phone it in either. It was just right.

Aaron Tveit:

You may have been a jerk at every stage door on Broadway, but I loved you and your wig in this movie. Ramin Karimloo was the only Enjolras I've ever paid attention to and you, my friend, just became number two. Your Red & Black was inspirational and you're unbridled will to fight was a perfect foil to your trepidatious friend Marius.

In short, if you are a fan of the show or you think you might become a fan, go see the movie, but take a few snacks because it's an epic. 

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