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Movie Review: Les Miserables

I finally was able to see Les Miserables last week.  It seems like everyone I talked to either loved or hated this movie, and I fall somewhere in the middle.  I’ve always liked this musical, although I saw the play about 18 years ago so my memory was a bit fuzzy going in.  The problem I have is that it feels like one long, ongoing song, which gets old for me.  I’d like a break with some normal dialogue here and there to separate the songs, but that’s just me.  Also, a lot of the songs, as beautiful as they are, sound the same to me.

As far as the performances go, I thought everyone had great voices except Russell Crowe, who is perfectly cast as Javert the character, but no-so-perfectly cast as Javert the singer.  He didn’t have a terrible voice, but at times it felt comedic listening to a duet with other characters who sound much better.  Anne Hathaway, who I’m usually not a huge fan of, stole the show as Fantine.  Another surprise was Samantha Barks as Eponine, who has  no other screen roles to her credit.  She had a fantastic voice and had me wondering why Marius was so obsessed with Cossette when Eponine was practically throwing herself at him. 

My favorite was Thenardier and Madame Thenardier, played perfectly by Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter.  They were funny and sounded great in all of their scenes.

Tom Hooper directed, who most recently directed the King’s Speech, and I thought he did a good job.  The constant close-ups were a bit much for me, but he got strong performances out of all the actors and kept close to the source material. 

Basically, if you like the play you’ll probably like this movie.  If you like musicals you’ll probably like this movie.  Otherwise, this probably isn’t for you.

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