And, you guys, it was beautiful.
The actors were predictably great. I was most worried about Russell Crowe’s Javert, and his voice doesn’t have a typical sound; it’s got a little more rock-n-roll-y grit to it, but it’s not bad at all. I had high hopes for this cast, and there wasn’t a single person whose voice or performance threw me out of the movie. Particularly heartbreaking was casting Original Broadway Cast Valjean Colm Wilkinson as the Bishop of Digne; I’m pretty sure I cried tears comprised of the purest feels every time he opened his mouth to sing. Anne Hathaway is a gift in this movie; her performance was really just breathtaking. The music was also great; I didn’t have a problem with any of the cuts they did or song orders they shifted around or bits they added. There was a new/original song, too, right after Valjean takes Cosette away from the Thenardiers. In the musical, it cuts right to them several years later, and I liked both the new song and the slightly less abrupt cut between scenes.
It was also really just amazing to see all the scenes from the musical writ large into the movie. The scene where they build the barricades was amazing; the shipyards at the prison, Lamarque’s funeral, Javert staring out at Notre Dame while he sings “Stars”…
They put plenty of little touches from the book in, which made my little Mizzie heart even happier. Like, Gavroche’s elephant. Gavroche’s elephant is all up in this movie. The bit where Valjean and Cosette run from Javert and go over the wall and hide in the convent where Fauchelevent works. Gavroche’s elephant. Marius’ grandfather and Marius’ rented-in-a-fit-of-Bonapartist-pique tiny-ass apartment. The scene where Grantaire wakes up from his drunken stupor just in time to die tragically with Enjolras physically punched me right in my twelve-year-old shippy feels. Marius’ fit of powder keg masculinity. Fantine selling her teeth. Just SO MANY LITTLE PERFECT THINGS. DID I MENTION GAVROCHE’S FRICKIN ELEPHANT?! (For people who haven’t read the book: Gavroche canonically lives in a dilapidated wooden elephant built many years previous as a tribute to Napoleon. I fucking love his elephant. They put the elephant in the movie.)
Little things I didn’t like:
The cinematography during the solo songs was a little strange. They sort of zoomed in on the characters’ faces and they were singing right into the camera which was a little weird and intense, and I would have liked to see a little bit more of the sweeping scenery for those scenes. The camera is sort of shaky too, which annoyed me a bit at first but I got used to it pretty quickly.
The other thing that I thought was lacking was the setup for the “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” scene. If you haven’t seen the musical, in the stage version they have all the dead revolutionaries come up behind Marius while he’s singing, so the audience can see the ghosts about which he’s singing. In the movie, he is just alone the whole time, and I thought it suffered for it, that it was somehow less sad. They’d already done the ‘vision’ thing with Cosette showing up at Fantine’s death, so they could have done a ghost-y thing, or they could have cut to a flashback to happier times at the good ol’ Cafe Musain, or something. I think it would have had more impact to show what Marius was missing.
I sobbed uncontrollably many times, but none so hard as at the end. Eponine doesn’t appear with Fantine’s ghost, which made me sad mostly because I love her harmony in that scene, but the way they did the “Do You Hear The People Sing” reprise at the end was literally the most perfect way I think they could have done it. I called my one best friend who is also a die-hard Mizzie from the theater during the credits, and I was bawling so bad she thought someone had died. Instead she just got me yelling “LES MIS WAS SO GOO-HOO-HOO-HOOOOOOD” at her.
I wholeheartedly recommend this movie. It is the Arkenstone of musical movies. It is a joy for Mizzies. It is everything I’ve ever wanted from a Les Mis movie. I laughed; I cried; I was more emotionally fulfilled than I thought possible. I sat in the theater watching the credits roll and wondered what else I should do with the rest of my life.
Go see Les Mis. (But bring a box of tissues.) You won’t regret it.