Saturday, 12 January 2013
Les Miserables - splendid cinema if you like that kind of thing
It's 24 hours since I went to see Les Miserables and the songs are still marching around my head which must go to show something.
I can't remember being this excited about a film in a mighty long time, if not ever. I love Les Mis and have seen it on stage a few times and often listen to the soundtrack when no one's looking. I'm not one of your Johnny-Come-Latelys who found it after Susan Boyle I Dreamed A Dream an international hit.
It's a long old movie - three hours from billed start time to the end including Kevin Bacon ads - but I didn't get restless, not one bit. And once it was finished there was a gasp from the audience and spontaneous applause. I'm sure - numb bumbs aside - quite a few of us would have been happy to stay for a second showing.
The movie version milked every bit of emotional intensity from an already full-on musical. Close ups and lots of very realistic poverty and filth added to the mix. Oddly, seeing huge faces singing at you from a middle row of an auditorium create a very intimate experience.
Hugh Jackman is a revelation. By his own admission not the best singer, he powers through as Jean Valjean. Believable as convict, desperate former convict, redeemed former convict and, eventually, old man. You do need to forgive him a dodgy David Essex-style 'do' in his middle years.
Russell Crowe's Javert is on the button except in the big singy numbers. Crowe's voice is surprisingly soft and sweet, at odds with the dogged plod he plays.
Anne Hathaway is as fantastic as anticipated, it's a shame she has to expire before the thing properly gets going.
Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) is a bit meh, but it's not really her fault. Whatever version you choose she's a fairly pointless bit of froth. She does cry prettily though. If I was in charge I'd find some way to get her out of the big frocks and up onto the barricades, or at any rate somewhere useful.
Anyhow, I was determined not to bang on, so if you're a Glums fan - go and see this now. You won't regret it. But you do have to be prepared to make allowances for moments of (usually Cosette-related) cheesiness and some utterly bewildering vocals from Sacha Baron Cohen. In Thenardier, SBC has been handed one of the best parts in the history of musical theatre yet he manages to make a bit of a pig's ear of it. I know it's a long film, but the rule of pick an accent and stick to it still applies.
Take Kleenex, and don't forget to go for a wee before it starts. Let me know what you think.