I’ve seen Les Mis twice on stage. It’s too long. Fact.
But I was interested in what would happen on screen and hoped that Tom Hooper’s horribly fussy direction of the King’s Speech would not follow him into this. I hoped but my wish was unfulfilled.
Tom Hooper puts the blown into overblown in everything he does. The Damned United wasn’t a patch on the book, The King’s Speech is simply the most overrated movie of the past few years and this, well put it this way, if Anne Hathaway hadn’t been in it I’d have been asking for my money back.
Let’s deal with the positives first (shouldn’t take long).
Anne Hathaway’s performance, as Fantine, is mesmerising, especially in her death scene at the end of the first reel. It’s a shame because the movie dies with her. And it’s all the more remarkable that Hooper will have two Oscar winning performances under his belt from two lousy movies. As I said; remarkable.
In places (Hathaway’s death scene in particular) the hand held camera work with a LOT of focus pulling (necessary because of the narrow depth of field and low light) works magically. It’s incredibly intimate, yet at others it’s just plain annoying (and repetitive).
Next the sound. I could hear every lyric from start to finish which meant that, unlike the stage play, it was easy to follow the (turgid and unlikely) story easily.
But the sound is actually one of my biggest gripes. Yes it was brave, and in parts very good (Hathaway) to make the actors perform the numbers for real, but by focusing on clarity of audio the incidental sound had to be dropped with the result that almost the entire movie sounded like it had been recorded in a recording studio and consequently appeared entirely fake.
Now the rest of the bad news.
The sets are horrible. Entirely unconvincing from start to finish.
Hugh Jackman is unbearable to watch (his singing voice is unlistenable).
Russell Crowe is appalling, but not as bad as the double act that is Helena Bonham Carter (surely her worst performance ever) and Sacha Baron Cohen who just plain sucks.
Eddie Redmayne left me totally cold but I’m sure the ladies will like his boyish good looks. But nah. He sucks too.
The direction is mawkish in the extreme which makes the child parts nauseous and heavy handed.
I could go on but I don’t want to bore you and I know that nobody will like this review on IMDB because nobody likes critical reviews on IMDB. Ah well.