This afternoon I saw Les Miserables for the second time. And I enjoyed it almost as much as the first time. When I saw it the day after Christmas I had seen no reviews other than the Fandango "Go" "Must Go" thing. I knew from the time that I saw the trailer months ago that I wanted to see it - in fact, if I hadn't been under the weather, I am sure I would have been there on Christmas Day.
My reaction? Wow. Incredible. Stunning. I barely recognized Hugh Jackman (wasn't he Wolverine in some sci-fi movie?) and the Anne Hathaway in Les Mis is nothing like Princess Mia in the Princess Diaries (although I caught PD2 the other night during a bout of insomnia and enjoyed it very much). It was everything that I hoped for - and more.
I later made the mistake of reading reviews of the movie written by "regular folk" and could not have been more surprised. I had very much enjoyed Russell Crowe's Javert - and actually was impressed with his singing. Apparently I am a tone-deaf idiot...because the reviews almost universally panned his musical performance. I listened more closely today and I think that I am right - he was not perfect, but he was impressive.
I have only seen the show a couple of times, including an excellent performance by the E.C. Glass Theatre Department. Among my theatre friends - I think that classifies me as one of the unwashed masses. You see, I came to theatre kind of late in my youth. I went to Amherst County High School where we were lucky to be able to cast ONE show every year. We had seriously defective lights, no sound system to speak of and a budget of $0. As I recall, in order to get enough males to stage "Our Town" in my senior year (I was student director) I had to bribe one guy with a 12 pack of beer. I know that the production values at ACHS have improved over the years, but I am not exaggerating in the slightest.
For reasons that I cannot recall, in the spring of my senior year, I decided to go to the Lynchburg Fine Arts Center to audition for a production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Yep, nothing like diving into the deep end of the pool - Shakespeare. And although I was not cast, I did end up working on the stage crew for the show. It was a fairly large cast...all kinds of fairies and such...and many of the cast were long-time theatre folk. This was my first exposure to a lot of theatre people - and they were light-years ahead of me. They were so cool, rattling off all the roles they had performed...talking about roles they would like to take on...and discussing shows I had never heard of. As I continued friendships begun during Midsummer - I kept hearing about this production or that production - including a new show: Les Mis.
Not wanting to appear stupid or uninformed - I usually just nodded my head a lot and kept quiet. So, when I went to the movie on Christmas Day, I didn't go with the the comparison of this Broadway cast or that. I don't own 5 different recordings of the show. I had no idea that the man who played the Bishop in the movie was the original Jean Valjean when the show opened in London. Apparently that is a respectful nod to a great man. I was able to enjoy the movie as though I was seeing the story for the very first time. And I thought it was incredible.
Some of the reviewers complained about the fact that most of the dialogue is sung...um, that's kind of how the show goes. It's a musical...it would be like going to a Dolly Parton concert and complaining that most of the songs were country.
Some of the reviewers complained about the dark and depressing themes...um, it's during the period of the French Revolution. People were starving. That's reality. That's why it's not called "The Happy."
In short - I thought it was a wonderful movie adaptation. I have seen it twice and would see it again. But leave the children at home - they don't need to see this much misery.