Probably you haven’t heard of it or read a single opinion on it, but I saw a movie called Les Miserables this weekend and, pioneer that I am, I’m going to talk about it on the Internet. There were some great things. There were some mediocre things. And there were some God-awful terrible things born in Australia who have a history of violent outbursts and an Oscar.
Let’s start with the unpleasant things. They were Russell Crowe and Helena Bonham Carter. I swear on every panda picture on this entire goddamn blog, if one person even thinks, “Oh, come on. They tried to sing. They were singing live! That seems hard….”, I will lose it. Singing live is hard. People devote their entire lives to developing the skill. People wait fucking tables for decades to chase the dream of playing fucking Javert or Madame Thenardier. Watching both of them butcher their respective roles with shitty voices (Russell was ok with the lower register, but “Stars” was so wispily sung, I wondered if they brought Taylor Swift in to ghost sing.), dead behind the eyes acting, and stiff body posture, I finally understood how struggling comedians feel about Dane Cook*.
The mediocre things were Anne Hathaway. There was technically nothing wrong with her. Her voice was fine. I didn’t mind her take on “I Dreamed a Dream”. It was adequate and certainly not warranting the three-month apology tour she’s been doing about it. But it was grating that her character, Fantine, literally never stopped crying. You think she’d get dehydrated after a while. Like, Fantine left behind a five year old, not an infant. There was time to move through the stages of grief. She went from being barely not on the streets during the French Revolution to being on the streets during the French Revolution; it wasn’t a huge leap. I imagine that at some point she would buck up in an attempt to struggle to survive. So, I liked that she committed to it, but I was confused and annoyed by the choice if ceaseless crying.
The great things were Gavroche, the surprisingly unannoying child revolutionary; Sasha Baron Cohen, who is as much a gift to musical theater as he is to comedy; the priest at the beginning who gives Jean Valjean an unwarranted and merciful pardon. He was my first, but not my last, mid-movie hard cry. The best thing in the movie is Aaron Tveit . I would fight for France under his Enjolras.
The long and the short of it is that everyone was British in a weird way, there are way too many close-ups, there was a ten minute scene where multiple characters were immersed in human excrement. I loved it**. I only stopped crying long enough to be utterly annoyed by Anne Hathaway, and then immediately picked back up. The ending is beautiful and inspiring. I’m tearing up at the memory***. The worst of it can’t undermine the best, not by a long shot.
*Sorry, Dane. NOT sorry, Russell and Helena.
**The movie, not the poop.
***Fair point: Tonight at an improv show, I cried at a joke about a baby chicken.