Movie of the Day # 11: Les Misérables

Saturday, February 2, 2013 7 comments
Les Misérables 2012

   Jean Valjean was sentenced five years to prison (the galleys) after stealing a loaf of bread for his sister's children. But it was not until 19 years that he got paroled because of trying to escape. Javert, a ruthless inspector, have been searching for Jean for breaking his parole. Jean, with the help of a priest found his way to success and vows to be a man of God and help other people who are in need, one of which is Fantine, whom he promised that he would take care of her child, Cosette. Years later, in the midst of the French revolution, a love story emerges as Cosette and revolutionary Marius find each other. A story of injustice and of salvation, of greed and of sacrifice, of despair and of hope, of hatred and of love.


Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean, Russell Crowe as Inspector Javert, Anne Hathaway as Fantine, Amanda Seyfried as Cosette, Samantha Barks as Eponine, Aaron Tveit as Enjolras, Eddie Redmayne as Marius, Sacha Baron Cohen as Monsieur Thénardier, Helena Bonham Carter as Madame Thénardier, and Colm Wilkinson as the Bishop of Digne, Daniel Huttlestone as Gavroche, Isabelle Allen as young Cosette.

Drama, Musical

Why I love It and Why Will You?

    I've been waiting for this movie the first moment I saw the trailer, I love the story of Les Mis and I love musicals (please bring Les Mis prod here), and this movie is just a treat for me, not to mention that Hugh, Anne, and Russell are singing. I really find it cool because I never did thought that they were the singing types. 

   Here are my thoughts: I love how the camera shoots in close-up (the emotions are very detailed, indeed) and with different angles (not the usual thing we see in most movies), which makes and gives every frame a picturesque effect to it (this drove me to the thought that their main poster up there is disappointingly common). Also, it's amazing how dull yet still striking with colors the costumes and  production design can be, yes they did have chosen bright and royal colors for some but still even the dull ones looks pleasant to the eyes. The whole set-up down to little details as the dirt in between Valjeans's teeth were incredible. The songs were amazing as it is - a given! I love how the cast put so emotions to their singing and we know that they were recorded live and not the usual pre-recording the songs. Anyway, it gives a very distinct feature from other musicals, exposing vulnerability and creativity at some point. I guess it was a pretty nice idea so that actors could thrive for emotions, singing in the actual scene/setting, to a near point of breaking. Tom Hooper is brilliant!

   I super love the movie, and it's a sure top lister on my favorites, but there are still some points that I'd like to say and I don't want to say those on a negative note but on a very personal thinking and or preference. On top would be, I wish they have started with the "So long as..." lines, I just love reading that part. 

   Just like to share: I've watched the 1935 and 1998 Les Mis movies, the 1978 one got me bored at the beginning so I haven't really finished it. I prefer the 1935 one, it was the first one that I saw and I fell in love with it. Fredric March was really good in portraying Valjean - love him! Valjean and Javert were the only characters that mattered to me back then and then I saw the 1998 which made me notice the other characters and made me hate Javert- well maybe that's also one of the reasons I prefer the '35.

   Aside from the past Les Mis movies, which are non-musical ones, I also have watched the 10th and 25th Anniversary Concerts of Les Mis, which are the closest thing I could experience from the musical theater production. And since they were my background to the musical, it's difficult not to compare them to those of the movie. The concerts were all out and each number were grand and strong always, that your arrector pili would contract instantaneously because it wouldn't be able to resist the majesty of it (orchestra and voices of the principals, ensemble and choir at their finest!). Though some of the highlights from the movie are a bit underwhelming to what I have been used to, I still enjoyed them because of the drama/emotions put into it, which is not much prominent in the concerts for obvious reasons (limitations, one of which is making sure they are heard in the microphones), but I'm not saying there weren't emotions put into the songs by the performers in the concert, it's just not similar in the emotions by the cast of the movie. Well this just proves the point that I shouldn't be comparing at all. I'm just saying, the concerts never fail to make me weep with such overwhelming beauty and outstanding performances. Can't imagine what more if I was to experience it first hand. Hopefully someday I would be able to watch the play itself and their (most probably) 50th anniversary concert. The difference, I think, is that the movie makes you drawn to it more through their emotion, their acting, while in the concert more through their singing.


    Isabelle Allen as young Cosette. Her voice is just amazing in Castle on a Cloud! I wish we could see and hear more from her in the future. 

   Daniel huttlestone as Gavroche. Well, he's not as adorable looking as Robert Madge, but he's a great Gavroche. I love the parts where he was at the back of the carriage, the glimpse of him crying when Eponine died and of course the time when he got shot. 

     The handsome Aaron Tveit as Enjolras. The moment he raised the red flag and he got hit and got hung in the window - very brave (Inappropriately, inside me I was like - So cool!). I just wished that he did not have the curly hair, still he's handsome. Which reminds me of how Gaston-looking Michael Maguire is in the 10th concert, though Aaron was nowhere near that looking. Ramin Karimloo best Enjolras still.

      The Thénardiers. Hearing alone their version of Master of the House made me sad that it wasn't the same as that of Jenny Galloway and Alun Armstrong versions, and so I thought that I wouldn't enjoy that part but surprisingly I did, and they were really funny. Madame Thénardier was a bit seductive than Jenny Galloway (love her!) while Monsieur Thénardier was really amusing especially when he keeps on mentioning Cosette's name as Colette, but everytime I see him, in my head it was like "Borat guy Borat guy...", which I am not really a fan of.

     It never did get to me, the love tandem of Cosette and Marius, nor did the love triangle of the two and Eponine, for the past movies and concerts. I just couldn't see the chemistry. But this movie supplied my longing for that magic moment between the two, and my sympathy for 'Ponine just grew ever more.

    I just love Samantha Barks (unbelievable waist! my sister noticed it when we watched the movie and I told her it's really like that even in the 25th concert) ever since I saw the 25th concert. I love her voice! It just makes me sad that she wasn't that much promoted  (posters, stills and all) considering she has one of the best songs and is one of the most relatable character in Les Mis. But of course our very own Lea Salonga as Eponine and Fantine will always be loved by me.

     With that, let me say that Anne's performance of Fantine is very remarkable yet voice wise, nothing from Lea. Not a bad thing I guess because she really isn't a professional in the singing world and it shows much realism with regards to her scenes. Her emotions especially in I Dreamed a Dream were nothing compared to anything that I have seen. She was just so.. ughh I don't even have the right words for it. On another note, her hair was really nice and is it just me, or she looks freaking scary when she died. Nevertheless, she was really perfect for the role, and I'm not saying this because I'm a big fan of her ever since Princess Diaries. Last one, I just find it funny - Fantine's temper.

    Amanda was perfect for Cosette, as Eddie Redmayne is to Marius. I guess, that's why I really felt the chemistry between them. Heart Full of Love scene was very romantic (well, sad for Eponine). I love Amanda ever since Mamma Mia (who would have guessed that this Mean Girl would turn to one of the biggest stars today), and her voice is really good. On the other hand, it's my first time to appreciate Eddie. His face is very familiar and I did saw him in Yellow Handkerchief but I got sleepy and haven't finished it. His voice is really really good, got teary-eyed in Empty Chairs at Empty Tables. Best Marius for me so far, beating Nick Jonas (I liked Nick because I think he was Marius-looking, but I did not get his facial expressions, looking constipated every scene (can't stop looking at those two wrinkle lines in his forehead)  and his voice is nothing compare to Michael Ball, but (sorry for this) Michael doesn't have that Marius look for me, he's too charming and adorable looking)

    Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean. First of all, please don't kill me, but I just didn't get his version of Valjean. I do love some of his scenes, and his acting was superb (esp in the 1815 part - Valjean's Soliloquy is his best scene for me) but there is something in the way he sings that I don't really feel, it's like there's a pausing button on my emotions, that it just didn't flow up to a wow-ness and my expectations. I'm sorry, then again, he won the Golden Globes and most probably the Oscars, so this isn't really that important.

     My favorite character would be Javert, he's driven by his principles, he's tough and seemingly rigid, but he has a heart and I admire him for that. I think that Russel Crowe did a good job, his voice wasn't all that Broadway (but I do love his voice) and he seems eating his words at times but I think that he's physically Javert and his eyes can be both fierce and saintly. He reminds me of Charles Laughton (Javert in the 1935 movie). I personally like how Javert was in this movie (esp. the giving to Gavroche his medal part), the '98 movie made him just so horrible. 

   In the concerts, my favorites would be Jean Valjean (Colm Wilkinson), Javert (Norm Lewis - love love him!), Fantine (Lea Salonga), and the funny Thénardiers (Jenny Galloway and Alun Armstrong).

  I was surprised to see Colm Wilkinson as the Bishop, it was like a grown-up Valjean talking to his young self. He looks very saintly, I once said that he's the best Valjean for me and now, best bishop! 

Favorite Scenes/Songs
    The last two in this list were undeniable the two of the best scenes in the movie for me. The difficult thing is to choose among the many amazing song numbers/scenes to choose my third favorite scene.

The Runner Ups: 

Valjean's Soliloquy (The only song by Hugh that I really liked in the movie, it was really intense and emotional)

I Dreamed a Dream (Again, "ughh I don't even have the right words for it"),

On my Own (One of my favorite songs in Les Mis and Samantha did a great job in that scene as expected. Also, the rain was so perfect for it and I was really waiting for the line "In the rain, the pavement shines like silver" and voila, behind her you can see the pavement does shines like silver),

Do You Hear The People Sing (I just love that moment that one by one the people started to sing, very patriotic moment),

Red and Black (I love Grantaire's part there, and of course Marius felt-like impromptu version of Red and Black),

A Heart Full of Love (Sweet and lovely (and that butterfly got to be there of course), though not in the heart of Eponine), 

A Little Fall of Rain (I started to like Cosette, but just why can't it be the two of them? Poor Eponine)

Empty Chairs at Empty Table (so emotional made me cry and love Eddie),

Everyday (I just love the "Every day you walk with stronger step, you walk with longer step, the worst is over" part)

My top three!

Stars. I just love that song and and I'm a bit biased to Russel, and the fact that the scene was atop a building with the sky so close to hugging you, makes me love it more (hoping for more stars, though). Also the walking by the edge, the eagle, and then by the end, the drums started to come along as the camera slowly goes up beneath him - just wow!
    Now, I'm cheating. My third will also include Javert's Suicide. I just wish his death was a bit graceful without that hard hit (Because my wish of him not committing suicide is not possible). I just love how the song goes and how Russel's voice gives meaning to the song (Yes, I'm still wishing that he didn't commit suicide and have his happy ending, same as Eponine - I wish for a lot of things in Les Mis, sorry for that. Also one thing,  I find it funny how they couple up Javert and Eponine. If only Javert was not that old, but I do love this picture of them I saw in tumblr). 

One Day More. It was perfect, just like what I imagined it would be like, the transitions from one character to another were utterly salient to the theme song. I can listen to that song all day long. Marius' and Javert's - my favorite parts. 

  Top 1 - The ending of course, The Epilogue (Tearing song at the start, Cosette's crying was contagious, and I always like hearing my favorite line there "To love another person is to see the face of God". Oh, also, seeing Fantine again was great. The only thing that I didn't like is that Eponine wasn't there, instead the Bishop was which is still okay 'coz I like him too, it's just that I was really expecting her to come up anytime but she didn't, but then of course I should have known that, because she didn't really know Valjean or even spoke to him the whole film, unlike in the other movies. Oh there's one more I smiled during the course of the song, when I thought if only Cosette knew her mother was there and that it was Valjean's double who was still sitting in the chair, that took me away from my momentum)

  Anyway, what I really love in the epilogue part was starting from the singing echoes,  the reprise of Do You Hear the People Sing. The one huge barricade in Paris, the waving of the flags, dead people singing (maybe if Javert didn't commit suicide, rather died from something honorable, he would be there) were perfect, perfect for the song. It was really very overwhelming that it seem an elephant has just landed in my chest and just beside that elephant is me, jumping and clapping and maybe a little crying too. EPIC! One thing that I noticed in the two films is that the ending weren't that grand, it was like that it just ended. This Les Mis is different, one thing is because they have a song that would be perfect for ending it like that. Wasn't it an astounding way to end the movie? It was so full of spirit and passion, it became a happy ending despite the fact that they're dead, and it was a great way to show that what those dead people had defended and what they had stood for will not be buried with them in vain, but will forever be in fighting - a flame that will never die. 

     Great great movie, the kind that makes people talk about it, blog about, tweet about it, and sing their songs, not just after seeing the movie but even days later or even years. More movies like this, please.

What did Les Mis make you do?

credit for the photos:

Comments are highly appreciated!


  • Bianca Capiral said...

    Oh my carol, sabi ko, makapagbasa nga ng reviews ng les mis.. tapos pindot lang ako ng pindot then nung binabasa ko na ung review mo sabi ko ang galing naman ng review na to kanino ba to..tapos nakita ko sayo pala!!! wow!!! :) super like ko ung review mo, parehas tayo ng naisip!!

  • Caroline Castro said...

    Hahaha B! Ayan naman ang gusto ko sayo eh, nakakapagpapalakpak ng tenga ang comments mo! haha :) Thanks! :) hihi Ang ganda lang talaga ng Les Mis! :) Kapag may theater prod na dito nuod tayo!

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