Movie Review: Les Miserable

I was quite relieved when it finally ended. It’s not that it’s a bad film, quite the contrary, it’s just that there was too much singing within a 2.5 hours time-frame. I’ve never seen a film-adaption of a musical (or theatre production?) where the characters sang in place of what I think were supposedly spoken, mundane dialogues. It was hard to catch words here and there, which contributed mainly to my displeasure of watching it (while freezing in the cold). There were moments where I heard myself begging, “Please don’t sing… Don’t sing! Not another song!” The sequence of different song numbers can get exhausting and tedious to listen and watch to. But I guess that’s what you should expect from a film-adaption of a musical. I also felt that the characters lacked development and depth. I’m not sure if that’s how it’s supposed to be or whether they took that off from the original play’s narrative.

In saying that, there are many plus sides of the film. Above all, the actors are surprisingly good singers (I didn’t know Wolverine can sing!). The emotions expressed by the characters are only heightened by their singing, stunning backdrops and the skillful face-front (though lengthy) framing of their facial expressions. This particular technique of framing the faces while the characters sing and belt their lungs out is drama you won’t see in theatre. One particular unforgettable scene that does this remarkably well is where Fantine (played by Anne Hathaway) sings about her tragic circumstances and the dreams and hopes that she have. It’s just one of those tear-jerker moments. And it’s not just all heart-wrenching melodrama! Two characters provide the needed comic relief with playful, joyful music and the revolutionaries with brave and empowering battle chants and songs, which is a nice break from all those sad songs. Fantastic cinematography and costumes as well!

I’m not familiar with the plot before seeing this, and so I can’t talk about how well the film captures the narrative of the original play. However, it is a moving story of hope, redemption and love that no one can go wrong with. If the last musical film that you’ve seen was Mary Poppins, it’s time to visit the movies. Les Miserables‘s musical element and its excellent execution really set this film apart from the rest. And if you left the cinema singing one of the film’s song number in your head, then it has very well worked its charm.

I give Les Miserables 7.5/10.