Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Truth About Les Miserables

I guess its a bit much for me to claim to offer the truth about Les Miz. But I am so sick of the "awesome"s and "amazing"s that are being flung around. Here's the truth - well, my truth - better?

There is much to like about the movie of the international hit musical "Les Miserables". There is also much to dislike. Visually stunning and acted well for the most part, this holiday feature is anything but festive. It is relentless in its dirge. My God, its a musical! It has been directed like it was "Schindler's List". Every song is performed exactly the same no matter the character. Its as if all the roles were one and the motivation as well. These characters lack a sense of humor and so does the director. From Hugh Jackman to Russell Crowe and the lot we get nothing but pained expressions and clipped lyric delivery. It is clear the actors are all struggling for tears and tragedy. One never gets the pleasure of hearing this score sung for its beauty. Frankly, with the directors encouragement, the cast is over acting - desperately trying for an Oscar nomination.

The only musical performance that works for me is Anme Hathaway. She surprises with a brave rendition of that most coveted of ballads, 'I Dreamed A Dream". It is refreshing to have this powerhouse of a song performed against the inclination to belt it. Hathaway goes for the truth and delivers a heart breaking performance that will surely get her an Academy Award nomination.                                                                                                                                                 

Hugh Jackman is well cast but delivers a one note performance albeit a good one note. But just think how great he could have been. He is a good Val jean. He should have been a great Val jean.

Helena Bodham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen are NOT funny in the comic relief roles. They are just creepy and 100% unpleasant.

I think we are in the age of self indulgence in the performing arts. Performers are so hell bent on making sure we the audience get their pain that they hang their guts out for what? - our pleasure? Since when are guts entertaining or pretty. Recently "Porgy and Bess" was on Broadway receiving the 'awesome"s and "amazing"s just like Les Miz is now. And you know what? It was also performed in this big over indulgent manner. This beautiful score - my favorite -  was performed by actors concerned with serving themselves rather than the brilliant material they were so fortunate to interpret. Everyone wants to WOW the audience and the audience is either gullible or left wanting. I AM LEFT WANTING!


  1. Submitted by Merridy Knips: I enjoyed your critique of Les Miserables. I hope to see it soon and I'm going to think about what you said as I watch.

  2. Submitted by Jolly King: Russell Crowe awful