I want to preface this by saying that I absolutely love this movie. Bias alert, but seriously, you can read here all the reasons why I find this movie amazing and fight tooth and nail against the critics and naysayers alike (even my friends have bashed this movie to my face). The thing is, a lot of people are going to agree with this ‘obstructed’ review, so, like, I guess this is semi-legitimate too.
Like I said, I’m bias!
So, to set this up a little, I recently stumbled upon a blogathon started by Nostra over at My Filmviews where he, in reference to Lars von Triers ‘The Five Obstructions’, challenges us to write a review each month with a difference ‘obstruction’ or ‘restriction’. For the first month (June) the challenge was to write a negative review for a film we love or a good review for a film we hate. Since it is so much fun tearing things apart, I decided to take the time to rip one of my beloved films a new asshole to-to-speak.
And that brings me to ‘Les Miserables’.
Here goes nothing:
For a trailer that promised a sprawling epic of emotional collapse and heartbreaking realism, ‘Les Miserables’ does nothing but obvious goading and honestly comes up a few brain cells short of common sense. I should have expected as much from that troll Tom Hooper, but I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt considering the source material. I guess I just forgot that his source was not Victor Hugo’s acclaimed novel but instead the bloated stage musical.
I almost don’t know where to begin, but maybe I should just begin at the beginning.
|Sweet Jesus, I need a bath!|
When the film opens we are introduced to a bounty of slovenly prisoners as they break their backs under the watchful eye of Inspector Javert. As our hero, a dirty and unhygienic Hugh Jackman, climbs the stairs to freedom, a tone deaf Russell Crowe barks about Jackman’s insignificance by labeling him a mere number (24601) and reminding him that he will never escape the consequence of his actions (he stole some bread). Valjean (Jackman) then steals from a Bishop who then spares him a prison sentence and sends him on his way with enough gold to start his life anew. He does. He has an epiphany where he walks back and forth across this long corridor where he yells and shouts and prays and shoves his brown teeth into the camera for us to feel his desperation and next thing we know, Valjean is a mayor and wealthy businessman who happens to employ similarly desperate whores but find himself too preoccupied trying to ‘do the right thing’ that he absentmindedly condemns said whore to ‘death by whoring’, but not before she pleads with the audience to give her an Oscar and then makes Valjean promise to take care of her child, who is being raised by some sexually perverse circus performers (right?) who happen to run a brothel, or is it a hotel.
Here is where Jackman gets to sing some grade-school song written with the sole purpose of winning an Oscar in a category it wouldn’t normally have been eligible. I mean, ‘Suddenly’ is so blandly written and offers no real connection to the story (yes, I understand that you want to show Valjean’s transformation into a father figure) and it is muddled thanks to the horrible rattle in Jackman’s voice.
Honestly, Hugh Jackman gargles more than a middle aged man suffering from laryngitis who happened to come down with the flu.
From this point forward, Valjean flees with this young child and lives as a hermit. This is where the film gets even more nonsensical, as it tries desperately to give all the women in the audience even more reason to love this movie (and every man in the audience to take a bullet to the head) by giving us a love story! I say that it tries, and by tries I mean it gives us too odd looking young actors (Redmayne looks slightly mutated and retarded, and Seyfried’s eyes make her look like what I imagine a Praying Mantis porn star to look like) with a skeletal love story (they see one another and Redmayne’s character is immediately willing to shit all over his morals and loyalty to his friends and their rebellion) and expects us to swoon for them. I don’t buy it. I also don’t buy that unfortunate tomboy who happens to follow Redmayne around like a lapdog, but at least she escapes this film with a decent solo.
For a film that consists of convicts, death, whores, violence, rebellion, war, love and Russell Crowe, I’m surprised at how boring this movie is. Then again, maybe that’s because I didn’t get to see any of that happen thanks to Tom Hooper’s need to show us NOTHING but the actor’s faces. Seriously, I think I say like a sofa and the side of mountain ONCE and the rest of the time I was counting the freckles on Redmayne’s face and praying that Hugh Jackman would fucking brush his teeth. Why is it that you even bother to hire set designers if you are so afraid to pan back just a little and let us see what it is that they designed? Get out a baby wipe and clean Anne Hathaway’s snot off of the lens and then point that camera at something other than Russell Crowe’s cheekbones. Oh wait, you did show me his feet as he walked that thin line to suicide, but even then it was hard to see what he was doing since the camera was zoomed in so far all I could see was his shoe.
Alas, even better cinematography wouldn’t save this film from lazy songwriting. I mean, how obvious can you get. I get it, you dreamed a dream and you’re on your own and that guy is the law and now your heart is full of love. Tell me something that you can’t read in a teenage girl’s diary.
I wanted to love this, but I find that to be an absolute impossibility.
My grade would be an F, D- if I give it a little love for giving us ‘Oscar crazy Hathaway’ and a year full of stuff to make fun of.
Really though, I fucking love this movie and want to say “suck it” to the haters. Grade A all the way!!!