Pulled Face Forward in “Les Miserables”

Posted: February 21, 2013 in Movies
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les miserables poster

It’s appropriate that the opening images of Les Miserables show miserable men trying to drag a huge ship into a dry dock, presumably to repair it. By the time this dreary, even dismal rendition of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece is over, the exhausted patron feels like he’s been dragged face forward through three hours of misery by an ill-equipped, badly directed cast of some of Hollywood’s greatest stars.

I don’t seek to disparage all of them, to be fair. Ann Hathaway has a graceful, well-executed role as the unwilling prostitute whose child graces the life of the pathetic main character, Jean Valjean (tediously performed by Hugh Jackman here.) Russell Crowe portrays the relentless sheriff who is Valjean’s nemesis, trailing him endlessly and without mercy–for some reason. Valjean didn’t escape from the chain gang, as far as we can tell,  so why Crowe’s character pursues him is never exactly clear. Hathaway is lucky, though, since her character dies before she has to endure two plus more hours of this film.


I have never been a fan of Sasha Baran Cohen, whose rapier like wit needs a long session with a whetstone. He is a sort of Fagin character here, but utterly without grace, charm or dignity. Tedious about describes it.

I have worked on many operas. Without doubt many of them can be enjoyed just for the music, which is usually sublime, exquisite and lovely. Not here. None of the characters can sing. They struggle manfully to produce acceptable versions of the score and in general produce wincing thuds of unlistenable weariness. The audience strains to understand why truly great singers could not have been employed.

Wait until it comes to a legit theatre near you.  Don’t bother with the film. One and one half stars.


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