Finally got around to seeing “Les Miserables”. Wasn’t sure whether I was going to like it but in the end I enjoyed it. It helped that I went in with low expectations – it definitely exceeded them. The movie indulges in scenery porn at a few moments from sweeping mountain views to close ups of Paris landmarks. Cinematically, I think it’s strong, although there scenes where the camera angles seemed odd. In terms of directorial choices, “Stars” was one of the numbers that stood out. Setting it against the backdrop of a certain famous cathedral certainly invited comparisons to a different Hugo antagonist. And the attention to detail was really nice – from Napoleon’s elephant to the touch of piling a few caskets on top of the barricade.
The material was handled quite well... both the omissions and most of the additions. I was really excited when Gillenormand actually made an appearance... though they didn’t do enough with his character in the end. Some minor rewritten lyrics helped. What didn’t work was shoehorning in the mandatory Oscar-bait number (glad it didn’t win, but it shouldn’t even have gotten nominated). I also missed “Dog Eat Dog” a bit, but still, the scene worked without it.
The actors – hit and miss. I expected Hugh Jackman to hit it out of the park; he disappointed me. I expected Russell Crowe to be terrible; he exceeded my expectations and was halfway decent. Anne Hathaway ... good, but seriously, did she really have to starve herself in real life for the part? Kind of disturbing, really. Sascha Baron-Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter – I expected them to fit the roles, and they did, oh they did. More over the top than I was expecting, and seriously hilarious. None of the other leads were worthy of note – they fit their roles well but didn’t stand out.
Historical sidenote: there are some scenes in which people conduct transactions in paper currency. I wonder if that was a widespread thing in 1820s-1830s France?