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Old December 26 2012, 06:23 PM   #210
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Location: West Haven, UT, USA
Re: "King's Speech" director to take on "Les Miserables"

I saw the movie with my family today and absolutely loved it. This might just be the best screen-to-stage adaptation I've seen ever. The cast was superb, and although some might complain about Russell Crowe's singing voice being weaker than is traditonal for the character, I personally liked that he and the others in the cast adapted the songs to fit their own abilities rather than attempting to sing the songs as they are typically performed on the stage.

Although, as I noted, the entire cast is superb, my favorite individual performances were delivered by Anne Hathaway as Fantine, Samantha Barks as Eponine, Daniel Huttlestone as Gavroche, Sacha Baron Cohen as Monsieur Thenardier, and Helena Bonham Carter as Mdme Thenardier. I don't know whose idea it was for Cohen to portray Thenardier with an accent, but it adds a nice new layer to the character and makes him stand out even more than he already does.

Anyone who's familiar with the stage musical will immediately notice that there have been changes made to both the composition and order of many, if not all, of the songs. This might catch some people off guard, but absolutely works and doesn't feel superflous or unnecessary.


There is one major change to the story as presented in the stage musical. The circumstances of Eponine's death are altered so that she dies protecting Marius during the early stages of the battle between the soldiers and the Friends of the ABC, meaning that Marius has to enlist Gavroche in delivering his letter to Cosette.


Although this caught me a bit off guard, I actually think it works because it enhances Eponine's character and strengthens her unrequited love for Marius. It also lends more power and emotional oomph to A Little Fall of Rain. Speaking of, I love that song as it is, but the way the sequence is staged in the movie, coming as it does on the heels of the altered circumstances I mentioned above, only enhances the pathos and emotion that the song is already supercharged with, which really lets the actors involved shine. It also allows for this one moment where Marius actually seems to realize just how Eponine feels about him, which is not something I'd noticed in the scene as it is in the stage version.

I haven't really mentioned Hugh Jackman, but Valjean is the role he was born to play. There was already ample evidence of the man's talent, but it all comes together here, particularly in his rendition of Valjean's Soliloquy (Who am I) and his first-time performance of the brand-new song Suddenly (which really should be added to future stage productions). He also plays marvelously off of Russell Crowe, SBC, and HBC.

I also wanted to mention something about the Master of the House sequence. I've always liked that song, and both SBC and HBC played the sequence perfectly. Cohen was a bit blurry with his words due to the fact that he sang the entire thing with an accent, as I mentioned above, but it worked to the scene's advantage, at least IMO.

Lovely Ladies was another excellently realized sequence, with Anne Hathaway perfectly evoking Fantine's desperation and despair. I was particularly struck as never before by the part where she sells herself for the first time.

Speaking of Anne, she also did something that I've never seen done before, which was to inject real anger and venom into the lyrics "He took my childhood in his stride, but he was gone when autumn came" from I Dreamed a Dream.

I'd highly recommend the film to anyone who's familiar with the story and the musical, as well as to anyone who might not be familiar with the story or musical but likes musical theater and movie musicals in general, giving it an enthusiastic 5 stars out of 5.
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"There is no 'supposed to be.' It's an adaptation, a word that literally means change. Why bother making a new version if it doesn't offer a fresh approach?" - Christopher L. Bennett
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