I was destined to fall in love with musicals especially since being surrounded by band geeks and choir nerds in high school. We often were found listening, dancing or singing a number from some obscure song from this musical or that. I remember singing, “On My Own,” Eponine’s angst filled ballad of unrequited love for quite a few auditions back when I didn’t get stage fright and when I did the prerequisite theater stint as a drama geek.
When I heard one of my favorite musicals, Les Misérables was being made into an epic movie, I was super excited and a little dubious. I have seen it five times as a live production, once in NYC on Broadway. I’ve loved it long before it was actually cool to admit to such things.
Instead of Christmas music this year, I pulled out all the old CD’s and listened to the music that was ingrained in the fabric of my formative years. And I started the countdown to Christmas Day, not for Santa, but in anticipation of opening day.
The night of the movie, I knew I would be an emotional mess, so I brought extra Kleenex and warned my mom and brother that I would probably cry. And I did a lot. (I might have been an emotional wreck too because I was PMSing as well). But from the first bars of the first song, I got chills…
I’m not going to give away too much of the movie, but I do have to say a few thoughts:
1. Anne Hathaway was a pleasant surprise. I wasn’t expecting much out of her performance of Fantine, but dare I say that she killed it.
2. Russell Crowe, not so much. In fact, he pretty much ruined all of Javert’s songs for me. Javert wasn’t my favorite character anyway.
3. Hugh Jackman – He was good, not a strong enough singer in my opinion as Jean Valjean. And he robbed me of one of the powerful lines in the song, “Who am I?” Instead of singing it, he spoke it. So here I was at the precipice and was left hanging. I hate being left hanging.
4. Samantha Barks as Eponine was brilliant as expected. I was very, very, very pleased that they cast an Eponine from the London production of Les Mis since Eponine is my very favorite character in the entire show. I’ve always related to her and her plight unrequited love and the depth of her character. I am so very glad that Taylor Swift did not get the part. I love Tay, but I would’ve had to ban the movie if she was Eponine. Gavroche – Eponine’s brother, of course, stole the show.
5. Did I mention how bad Russell Crowe was? Well, it’s worth mentioning again.
6. The Cinematography, a big word I was told by my cinematographer brother after the show, that means the guy who tells the camera man what angle to shoot at in addition to the director, was kind of weird. I felt like we were right up in the faces of the actor. Like I could see pores and up noses. Didn’t like.
All in all, it didn’t disappoint. Like the movie adaptation of your favorite book, it’s not gonna be exactly how you want it to be, but it was great, and I would definitely see it again and recommend it with the caveat that the movie, of course, is incomparable to the live performance. Now I am dying to see it on stage again and soon.