Sunday, February 24, 2013

Les Misérables: C (B for musical)

les miserables movie poster.jpg

Scott, ma, and I saw Les Misérables several weeks ago, but I'm just now posting my thoughts before tonight's Oscars. Having never seen the stage version, I didn't know what to expect other than a lot of singing. There was almost no dialogue. The constant singing seemed like a endless medley, but I don't watch many musicals.

One of the promotional clips mentioned that the singing was filmed live with an elaborate system of hidden earpieces and carefully mic'd stages. While live singing would seem to be better than voice over, I can't say it made much difference to me. Other than Anne Hathaway's Oscar-baiting performance [of that Susan Boyle song :)] filmed in a confined space, the sound quality was still fainter and less clear than voice over. And, regardless of the terrific technical efforts, singing dialogue inherently undermines authenticity of any scene.

Weeks later, I recall that Hugh Jackman's performance was good, but I can't recall any songs he sang. Russell Crowe's singing has been widely criticized; however, I thought his less than stellar singing brought made his ill-thinking character more realistic. After all, wouldn't all of us sign imperfectly if thrown into a musical? That said though, I'm not sure what Russell Crowe was thinking.

Overall, an okay musical, but a long dreary story with only a few likable characters. I probably would have appreciated seeing the stage version more.