I went to see this film as a complete Les Mis virgin, having no idea as
to the storyline, and having never seen any previous production nor
having read the novel.
But I enjoy musicals (both in the theatre and film versions) and I went
with an open mind, and looking forward to seeing something a little
different from the norm. Sadly, within the first few minutes, I knew
I'd made a mistake, and this has become one of my most hated films of
Indeed, I always rate films but rarely review them, but I just had to
get this off my chest. Particularly because so many reviews seem to be
gushing about its brilliance, and although I'm fully prepared to admit
that my views are in the minority, I think it's important to air them
if only in the interest of balance and representation.
It didn't take long to realise that every single word of the dialogue
was to be 'sung'. I say 'sung' rather than sung, because it wasn't what
I could really refer to as singing. Just because one woooooord of any
given liiiiiine is extended like thiiiiiis, does not, in my mind, make
it 'singing'. In fact, if it weren't for the extended words in nearly
every sentence, the film would likely have been at least thirty minutes
The lack of spoken dialogue really detracted from many of the scenes.
When even the most mundane of sentences has to be delivered in such a
way, it becomes grating. I wouldn't have been at all surprised for
someone to bellow out "pass the saaaaaalt". It was just awful.
And the repetition! I understand that chords and themes repeat
throughout musicals, often linking similarities between scenes and
concepts and characters. It isn't that I don't understand that. But
this was too much. It was as though the same tones and flow were
repeated every four lines. Every. Four. Lines. With the third or fourth
wooooooords extended. Every. Single Time.
I'm getting wound up reliving the moment and I've waited till the
following morning before doing this review in case my opinion mellowed.
And the duration of the film only served to make it worse. Occasionally
the film would announce via on-screen text that it was now "8 years
later", or whatever. And I felt as though I'd been there for that
entire time. In fact, it felt like longer.
It became one of those films which leaves you feeling physically
drained from the effort of battling through it. It was that bad. It
felt like I've undergone a test of endurance and although I got through
it, it wasn't without mental scarring!
Beyond the monotony, repetition and delivery, there was the story,
which (perhaps as I had no prior knowledge of the source) was
nonsensical. People falling in love within a single glance, which then
goes on to motivate someone else to endure warfare to carry the person,
half-dead? Chasing someone for what, 17 years, because of breaking
parole for a loaf of bread, which itself warranted a previous 19 years
of suffering? Only to then throw yourself to your death?
Am I meant to believe these characters? Am I meant to care about them?
Anne Hathaway's deterioration from factory worker to cropped and
toothless prostitute was compacted into all of 42 seconds, so when it
came to her performance of I Dreamed A Dream (which was a rare
highlight in the film) its impact was stunted because why should we
care about this woman? She's only just been introduced to us and we
know nothing about her (presumably because everyoooooone is too busy
singing like thiiiiiiiis instead of actually making us caaaaaaare).
Yet apparently Hugh Jackman cares so much about her that he then
devotes his entire life to her child? It was mentioned at the very
beginning that he has a sister and a nephew of his own, why not take
care of them? Or were they dead (as he went to a cross in the ground
after being paroled) but if that's the case it wasn't explained well.
A film should be able to stand on its own two feet and not require its
audience to have read the book or seen the musical. The Harry Potter
books far exceed the movies, yet people can enjoy the movies on their
own merit. Not so with Les Mis.
And the casting was bizarre as well. I don't understand why the casting
was given to Hollywood actors instead of singers. Borat? Really?? And
accents were flying all over the place. Early in the film, when Hugh
Jackman is in the church, he suddenly sounds as though he's stepped off
the first boat from Ireland, and half of the cast of jumped straight
out of a Mary Poppins chalk drawing!
I can't find a single redeeming feature to mention about this film.
Miscast. Rubbish sets (most of it looking like obvious CGI). Repetitive
'singing'. No spoken dialogue. Nonsensical plot. Ridiculous pacing. No
character development or involvement.
Beyond doubt one of the worst films I have ever watched, and I would
sooner have my teeth extracted by a French street urchin than ever have
to endure this horror again.