FINALLY, I saw Les Misérables
, the latest film installment. It only took this long because I have kids, and arranging the sitter and coaxing my husband to use our precious date night for this, well, these things take time. (Thank you for being coaxed, dear husband.)
Thoughts in random order!
Evidently, when someone says, "Who goes there?", you should not answer, "French revolution." Doesn't go over well.
Extreme close-ups during singing: a few too many of them. It was like Sinead O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U" video, over and over. Mind you, it was impressive to know we were hearing the actual singing the actors were doing during those takes. And I found it reassuring that famous beautiful people have pores and little brown spots and other skin imperfections too. Thank heavens.
Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway both deserve their Oscar nods. Russell Crowe wasn't as bad as I expected; in fact, he made Javert more endearing than I usually find him. (The bit with the medal he pins on someone else who shall remain spoiler-free-nameless was a very moving addition, though that gesture isn't in the book.)
I love Gavroche, and Daniel Huttlestone did a great job, but must they always have him do an Artful Dodger accent? We are in *France* here, you know. Not London.
You know what I'm going to say I disliked, if you've read my Les Mis thoughts before. Yeah, that's right: the way they condense down the gorgeous, lengthy, super-romantic Cosette-and-Marius relationship from the book into, literally, one day
. No one is going to buy it, their being "in love" when they just met a second ago
. Why the hell couldn't the filmmakers give them a montage, Marius sneaking in night after night to sit and talk with Cosette in the garden, the way the book has it? In the book, it's Cosette--not Eponine--he's buddies with, Cosette (not Eponine) he sees regularly and talks for hours with and knows really well after a month or so of such meetings. In the book, he talks to Eponine a couple of times. She's obviously into him, and he's awkward about it, and he uses her to get Cosette's address because she's willing, but that's about it. But in the musical, oh no, it isn't enough that they give Eponine the most gorgeous songs; they also have to rob Cosette and Marius of any real, actual interaction that any sane person would feel sympathy for. ARGH. Don't get me started. Whoops, too late.
Give me a second while I calm down from that rant. Seethe. Deep breath. Okay.
Eddie Redmayne at least did save the part of Marius from what all too often becomes blandness and idiocy in many versions. He had the dorky, stammering, happy-in-love thing down, but also showed his noble revolutionary side well.
Favorite surprise-cutie revolutionary: Grantaire, played by George Blagden.
Hel-lo! Also, much love for the book-faithful moment in which he opts to die next to Enjolras. (Spoiler there. Sorry. Whatever; no one reads LiveJournal.)
Aaron Tveit as Enjolras was, of course, beautiful. Highly well cast. And I'm so glad they did away with his Adam-Ant gold-barred jacket from the stage version in favor of a basic red one.
Impressive barricade, guys! Coffin in front, looked like. Really sends the message, "Pretty much everyone here is going to die." Oh, but I loved how one of the Friends of the ABC got the tavern mistress's chair by hauling her off it in a big long kiss. There weren't enough smooches in this film, really.
The Thenardiers were almost too lovable. Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter, despite looking ridiculous, pulled off the parts with surprising subtlety and humor, to the degree that I was glad to see them whenever they showed up. That's not the case in the book; the Thenardiers *are* a bit humorous, but the general reaction of most readers is, "OMFG, I hate these people." But that's okay. The movie benefited from the comic relief.
Elephant statue! Another book-faithful detail. Hurrah.
I managed not to cry in the cinema. I'm good at being stoic in public that way. But if I had this at home on DVD, there would have been waterworks.
"Bring Him Home," from the viewpoint of the book reader, doesn't make a lot of sense. Valjean kind of hates Marius at that point, but he is risking his life to save Marius anyway because it would make Cosette happy. This whole "he's like the son I might have known" stuff doesn't really wash for me, this early on in their acquaintance.
That said, 2 hours and 37 minutes is really not enough to do justice to a story of this depth and breadth. The music is wonderful, and the costumes and scenery were breathtaking, and I'm so glad this movie version exists. But someone needs to do a perfect, lengthy miniseries someday. With all the RIGHT Cosette-Marius-Eponine dynamics, dammit. Shoujo Cosette
is doing a fairly good job so far actually, but it's, you know, anime. For innocent kids. With way more giggles and fluffy puppies than Victor Hugo intended.
And may I remind you that I summed up The Brick (that is, the unabridged novel version of Les Mis) with my own attempt at condensing things,
so you can see what the musical changed, if you wish.
VIVE LA FRANCE. Au revoir.