Film Review – Les Miserables (2013)

when you create a film or a story there should always be a start, middle and the end. In Victor Hugo’s masterpiece Les Miserables a revolutionary love story provides that substance as does the musical stage version so what about the new anticipated film version? As Forrest Gump once said ‘Life is like a box of chocolates’ , Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables is that box of chocolates that’s just been sat and squashed by that fat lady that always sings, a complete mess wishing she sat on a Tolberone Bar instead.

As I wrote the last few words of the previous paragraph I could hear the firing squad (aka Les Miserables massive fanbase) getting ready to go to war with myself, how dare I rip into their beloved Les Mis?! Before you get ready to shoot the first round of bullets let’s get one thing straight my problem is with the film version not the stage version which I watched recently live online after I witnessed Hooper’s torturefest. So was that really the firing squad I heard earlier or just an angry patron been told to cough up £5 for popcorn  and £2.50 for extra rubber cheese for their nachos?

So what’s Les Miserables (or Les Mis as fans like to call it) all abut or as my good fellow Scottish friend calls it ‘Les Pish’ all about? Set in the 19th century France, Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) is released after 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread, released on parole however breaks and disappears of the face of the earth. Despite the size of the crime Valjean finds himself hunted for decades by ruthless policeman Javert (Russell Crowe) he becomes wealthy befriending factory worker Fantine (Anne Hathaway) whom Valjean ends up raising her daughter Cosette but a fateful decision that would change everyone they meet.

Before irrate lovers of this film fire even more abuse my way, Les Miserables had it’s moments of quality believe it or not. Old adamantium knuckles Hugh Jackman does  deliver a solid performance as Jean Valjean though when it comes to the singing it feels likes Wolverine is attempting to audition as Ziggy Stardust for a David Bowie tribute band.Now for Subo better known as Anne Hathaway she is the star of the film, brilliant as fantine, a heartfelt performance that deserves the plaudits. Tom Hooper does strike a chord when I Dreamed The Dream  using the P.O.V camera technique really brings a tear to anyone’s eye, a emotion I’ve never felt since John Hartson’s wonder goal for Celtic against Liverpool in 2003 Uefa Cup. Sadly Anne Hathaway‘s screen time is about the same length as Scottish national football team attempts to qualify for a World cup or Euros final, short and sweet. After this film goes downhill like Freddie The Eagle Edwards ski career and on par emotionally with a Adam Sandler film…big fat zero.

At this point I attempt to conserve my energy as Les Pish is the second film of three film preview screenings I had this day but as I tried to fight I gradually started to lose the will to live.But as I drift slowly into never neverland the dream warriors save me from the clutches of Freddy Kruger to find myself awake at a new song ‘One Day More’  I awoke thinking sub consciously that was how long left before this torture  had to go before it finished! I wasn’t far off 4 hours down only 12 hours to go. As the songs are the star of the show for hardcore fans you’ll be delighted to know all 50 songs are there from the stage version but the inclusion of a new song was a sly move to milk the Oscar nominations despite all songs older than the cast.

With morale now as low as a dodgy Frankie Boyle joke among the reviewers, 2 comical (and childish) moments of magic happened saved us all from the deep sleep onboard the spaceship Prometheus  as many of us where given up all hope  one of Scotland’s press finest decides to let one rip. Just before the fiasco kicked off around ‘One Day More’ which is roughly when the stage version has the submission, so with this been 16 hours long many amongst us decided  to get up, sit down only disappointed to find out no break. This was really funny moment that reminded me of the last episode of Peter Kay’s Phoenix Nights as they held Star For Their Eyes night when one of the cast dresses up as Eminem singing the real slim shady, please stand up, please stand up.

Now back at the ranch, that bloke from Gladiator…Russell Crowe or shall we call him Spandau Ballet’s Tony Hadley. I was always assumed that Les Miserables was a few centuries ago instead of decades with his new romantics dulcet tones but as my hopes are dashed that Limal and his mullet would not be making a cameo with his rendition of Never Ending Story if Baz Luhrmann made this thing could have been different! It’s obvious that Russell looks out of place, uneasy uncomfortable moving about the screen like a constipated man needing to let one rip. As for his swan song, he took forever and you found yourself mentally screaming at the screen ‘Jump!Jump!Jump!Jump!Jump!Jump!jump -wee!!! Splash! It was a jump that was so momentous it would find Crowe winning Tom Daley’s Splash!

The comedy relief I have to admit it had its moments. Mrs One Dimensional Helena Boham Carter pulled off a few lines that brought a chuckle or two but the question I ask why does she always play the same characters?!!! As for her cohort Sacha Baron Cohen you want the Aladeen news or the Aladeen news? Your Not funny Sacha despite having a few potential scene stealer lines. Eddie Redmayne, Amanda Seyfried don’t add any extra substance to story which is a shame as they are key players  in the film.Even with the best efforts from 2 cast members from the stage version Samantha Barks (Eponine from London West End Version) and Colm Wilkinson (Valjean from the Broadway original version) as Monsignor, they deliver glimpses of what could have been. The ending we can’t deny is fantastic, epic but if the fat lady we mentioned early didn’t sing that Toblerone bar by the time we got to the end of the film 16 hours later might have been a After Eight Mint which ironically I do prefer!

Les Miserables is an awkward pretentious forgettable mess which is alienating, monotonous that makes you think if these films are getting bigger and longer we will need to bring back the intermissions. Medically speaking I learned a great fact ‘Paul, A weak bladder is God’s giift to film reviewers. You always know when your bladder plays up, it’s Gods way of telling you the film is terrible and giving you a perfect excuse to get up and leave’.

If your a Les Miserables purist you will find some satisfaction in this mess however if you haven’t  take a chance and go see the Stage version as it’s more memorable experience.

|Paul Devine

(If your a fan of the musical probably give it ★★★★)
Drama, Musical, Romance | UK, 2013 | 12A | 11th January 2013(UK) |Universal Pictures | Dir.Tom Hooper | Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne

originally posted at The Peoples Movies The Peoples Movies | 13th January 2013

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