Merry Christmas, "Les Miz" lovers – I'm about to hate all over your musical.
All right, calm down. I don't hate the musical itself, per se. What I hate is its utterly superfluous big screen adaptation, which I'm about 90 percent sure is getting rave reviews only because people can't differentiate between "great musical" and "great musical lazily slapped onto film for mass consumption."
"Les Miserables," to the musical-inclined, is the story of Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), a 19th-century French parole jumper who vows to care for young Cosette (Isabelle Allen/ Amanda Seyfried) after the death of her mother, Fantine (Anne Hathaway). "Les Miserables," to the musical-less-than-inclined, is that new movie with Hathaway ugly-crying into the camera as she belts out that Susan Boyle song.
Those in the latter camp will be sorely disappointed when Hathaway bites it within minutes of first appearing on screen, and that's the fault of a dirty marketing trick to get people into seats with her clout behind the trailers. It's a minor offense, though, compared to the rest of the more legitimate shortcomings that litter this two-and-a-half-hour trudge.
For all of the languid pace it takes up in later acts, "Les Miz" rushes through its exposition like the opening credits were on fire. It drops key points of the introduction in moments, scattered across characters in a muddled mess of sing-talking, which is itself hard to follow right from the beginning. The exchanges may as well have been in French, especially considering Valjean and Javert (Russell Crowe)'s penchants for referring to themselves in the third person.
It wasn't the completely musical dialogue that turned me off, though, but the constant soliloquizing. Having the characters talk to themselves to reveal their innermost thoughts and feelings to the audience might work on a Broadway stage, but in a movie – where "showing" takes precedent to "telling" – the device just comes off as lazy. After being translated from no…Read more...