review of Les Miserables

(Don’t worry, no spoilers.)

As a literature major, of course I am familiar with Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. I also know that there is a Broadway musical and countless movies based on it. But I’ll admit, I’ve never actually read it or seen any incarnation of it. Somehow I knew the characters’ names though (mainly Jean ValJean and Cosette, but still).

But when the most recent movie remake came out, the one with Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, I went to go see it. I knew enough about the story that I knew I would be in tears, because 1) I cry at the drop of a hat at movies anyway, and 2) the title is LITERALLY “The Miserable People.” Not gonna be a feelgood, happy tale. I resisted seeing it on opening day, which was Christmas, because nobody wants to cry on Christmas. Also, I was lazy, but that’s beside the point.

I went to see it the day after, and I was not disappointed. Well, I was disappointed in the fact that I cried the whole time, but that’s only because the movie was so good. Les Miz is a musical, yes, but did you know that there is literally no spoken dialogue? The whole thing is sung. And it was sung on set, by the actors, in the moment. It was not redubbed later. That just speaks to the tremendous talent of the cast. Which brings me to my main point: this movie is going to win all the Oscars. All of them. Just you wait. Cast your bets at Oscar parties, then send me some of the winnings when the awards show proves me right.

It has all the Academy Award elements:
– death, both by disease and in battle, and even by children.
– epic length. I think it was like 3.5 hours long.
– historical setting (hello costume design!).
– stirring interpersonal relationships: love, hate, and a conflicting mixture of the two. All kinds of both too – between families, classes, etc.
-comic relief. Sadly, Helena Bonham Carter and Sascha Baron Cohen will not be the award winners (even though they both have three names and I think that helps). They were both very good though. Very reminiscent of their roles in Sweeney Todd.
– of course great performances, but you already knew that. There are plenty of previous award winners. I’m too lazy to look it up and prove it to you, but if you don’t believe me, use your power of google-fu.

Here’s the TL;DR version.

Go see this movie, but bring a box of tissues. Even the guys in the audience had something in their eye. You don’t have to see it on the big screen, but the surround sound is awesome. Also, close ups of bad teeth.

(Semi-related side note: The Flat Rock Playhouse in Hendersonville, NC will be putting on this play this year. I want to go see it, as I know it will be excellent because everything they do is, but I don’t want to cry the whole time. Which I will. So if you’re anywhere near this area or planning a vacation, you should go see the play too.)

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