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Old December 29 2012, 08:00 PM   #216
stj
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Re: "King's Speech" director to take on "Les Miserables"

You would think anything with red flags and barricades is an automatic win for me, wouldn't you? Certainly, I went in eager to enjoy.

Crowe can't really sing. Javert is a stick as well as a dick, so it's not an insuperable problem.

But although all the other actors can sing, I'd say only Jackman, Samantha Barks and Eddie Redmayne really have the pipes for their roles. I think there's a physicality in singing, a strength and volume that the others just don't have. Unfortunately, Marius and Eponine are almost minor characters. Jackman's strong Valjean is the heart of the movie. I think the movie would have been well advised to have another strong singer in a major role. Dramatically that would have been Javert I suppose. In musicals, songs are often monologues. But in Les Miserables I think Jackman's overwhelming superiority as singer turns the movie into something like a series of monologues, minus the interaction with another actor/singer that makes it more of a drama. The Redmayne/Barks duet was more like what the Valjean/Javert should have been.

Hathaway's rendition of I Dreamed a Dream just isn't quite strong enough, with some of the words lost. Amanda Seyfried also loses too many lyrics, with the added disadvantage of not having strong lyrics.

Daniel Huttlestone's London street urchin is just a tinny echo of the kid in Sweeney Todd. Unfortunately, with both Bonhamn Carter and Baron Cohen in the movie we can't omit the comparison. Their comic songs don't suffer as much from their weakness. The choruses are generally weak as well, with lots of the lyrics lost.

I gather that Hooper insisted on live singing. I suspect that most of the cast just wasn't strong enough singers to cope with that. The insistence on closeups or CGI zooms that remind me of Lord of the Rings was kind of offputting too, as so many have noted.

The music was fairly innocuous, which is a bad thing in a musical. The lyrics were stronger but dramaitc irony in the phrases "look down" and "one day more" and "red and black," commendable as it is, just isn't enough.

Lastly having all the cast members on screen for the finale is a bizarre decision. I think I last saw that in V for Vendetta, and I didn't like it then either.

As eager as I was to see the flick, I ended up looking at my watch a lot. Most of the emotion felt was when scenes triggered personal memories in connection with Christmas and a Dec. 26 birthday. There is apparently Oscar buzz, but I can't see why. Nor could I hear why.
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