Friday, December 28, 2012

Les Miserables

Cue broadway enthusiasts rejoicing!  The long wait is over, as the latest film-adaption of Les Miserables opened on Christmas Day.  Ranking in over 30 million dollars so far, it's generating quite the Oscar buzz.  

And, after my trip to the theatre, I can certainly see why.  Instead of seeing The Hobbit for a second time with the rest of the family, yesterday I decided to face an Orlando, Florida movie theater alone.  And, all I can say is my expectations were certainly met.  

Based on the smash Broadway musical that's based on Victor Hugo's five-volume novel, Les Miserables takes place in 19th century France.  The story of Jean Valjean, the movie opens on the day of his parole.  After skipping parole, Valjean (played by Hugh Jackman) vows vengeance on his cruel prison guard.  He heads to Paris, where he manages to adopt a new identity, becoming a respected factory owner.  It's years later, but Javert is still pursuing Valjean.  The constant chase complicates the past-prisoner's efforts of adopting Fantine's daughter Cosette.  The little girl lived the life of an innkeeper's servant after her mother died, the result of a turn to prostitution following the lose of her job at Valjean's factory.  Eventually, Cosette grows to be a teenager. And, on a walk around the Parisian streets, she spots a revolutionary named Marius.  For the pair, it's love at first sight.  But, their budding romance coincides with the French Revolution, and it's put to the test as battle wages. 

Now, that's another face I didn't mind the close-up on! 
Basically, that's the plot skeleton.  Add in its French landscape and beautiful costumes, and you've got yourself the quintessential period piece. 

Now, if you're heading to see it, brace yourself for 2 hours and 37 minutes of singing.  No dialogue can be found here, which seems to be causing quite a stir.  Instead of the more traditional method of recording the vocals in a studio then having the actors lip-synch on camera, here actors (like Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe, and the oh-so-hot Eddie Redmayne) recorded live as the film was shot.  

Plus, a lot of the singing is filmed in close-ups.  And, the result is for much of the movie, you've got actors belting notes right in front of you.  Particularly with Hathaway's tearful "I Dreamed a Dream" the technique works, but most of the time it seems like giants are yelling at you. 
Overall though, I'd say take the plunge and see the movie that's got everyone talking. 

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