Les Miserables

December 31, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Posted in 2012 | Leave a comment
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Okay, look.  I have to admit, right at the outset, that I am not a musical fan.  With very, very few exceptions, I tend to find them to be varying degrees of insufferable.  This is because  1) singing in the middle of a film tends to break the 3rd wall for me   2) the songs are usually saccharin   3) and the sappy stories are one-dimensional and obvious.  That said, a musical can work for me if the plot is realistic or dark enough and it finds a way to fit the singing into the story in a realistic way (“Once”) or is so over-the-top ridiculous that I don’t mind the singing (“Moulin Rouge” or “Romance and Cigarettes”).  While, “Les Miserables” could never be accused of being an Oscar and Hammerstein, rainbows and unicorns sing-a-long, it is still a musical in the worst sense.  In fact, it’s really opera-lite; there is no spoken dialogue and every bit of dialogue is sung.  For two hundred and thirty-seven minutes.  I was done at ninety.  For many people, the singing has a way of drawing them into the emotions being portrayed (there were plenty of sniffles in the theater) but I find my emotions shut down by the singing, instead of engaging with the characters and becoming invested in their plight, I am reminded that none of it is real (we just don’t break into song in real life).  It’s a shame; the story of young people rising up against injustice, facing impossible odds, but standing together despite the cost is a powerful one and I wish I had been more moved than I was.  The sets were beautiful and the cast is a strong one.  Some critics have attacked the quality of the singing but I am wholly unqualified to comment.  The little boy who had a bit too large a part for me sounded a bit whiny when he sang and Russel Crowe sounded more like he was yelling his lines than singing them but everyone else sounded good to me.  If you are a musical kind of person and like to get weepy at the cinema, I think this has your name all over it.

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