10 Reasons Les Miserables Misses The Mark
Sean: Ah, and that indirectly brings us to our next point. #4 - Russell Crowe can't sing this material.
I mean, I know Crowe can sing. I've actually heard a number of his songs with the rock outfit Thirty Odd Foot of Grunts. But he sings virtually every note of this material at such a high register. It's a deep miscalculation from his very first verse, and it never gets better. I think Crowe's an amazing actor. I think he can sing. But I think his performance here destroys the Javert-Valjean subplot ... which is crucial to the show.
Kristy: He's very one note. But I felt it was more that neither he nor Jackman can pull off this level of Broadway. They are both very masculine men, but it weirdly felt like they were man enough to pull this feat off. It's a high bar, and they fell short.
Sean: You know who else fell short? #5 - Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen were grotesquely miscast.
Kristy: It speaks to Hooper totally undercutting the humor that exists in the show. HBC and SBC play the comic relief, but they are cartoons next to everything else going on, especially because Hopper makes everyone else play it so straight. He made "Lovely Ladies" totally sinister, where in the show it's a pretty funny number. Dark, and imbued with tragedy, yes. But it was also funny. Here he makes it all about Fantine, which works for her, but then makes the Thenadiers and their lunacy seem like they come out of nowhere.
Sean: Yes, exactly! Their scenes don't fit in with the otherwise serious tone of the rest of the movie.
I'm unfamiliar with the show, so I didn't expect their scenes. And I understand their importance to the narrative, but Hooper, for whatever reason, edges them toward camp, when nothing else in the rest of the movie suggests that. If that was their choice in how to play the material -- possibly because they just relied on the exact same shtick in Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd -- then Hooper needed to tell them that wasn't the type of movie he was trying to make. Because we go from gut-wrenching scenes of Fantine dying and Valjean wrestling with his conscience, and then we get Thenadier drinking his own piss. I mean ... what?
Kristy: Yeah, in the show the humor is more balanced, and the Thenadiers are a welcomed sense of comic relief, they get cheers when they crash the wedding typically. But this leads to another problem I had.
#6 - Hooper judges his characters in a way the show resists. In the show, the Thenadiers are terrible and scoundrels, but they are also fun and can't be gotten down! And Javert is not a flat-out bad guy, he's a man who is inflexible in his code -- and his code is the law -- and he suffers for it. I won't get into detail for spoilers sake, but I was absolutely livid by Hooper's choice to rob Javert of any possible dignity in his final shot.
Sean: Ooooh, I really want you to be able to elaborate on that, because it's a very important point. Can you get to a little deeper criticism without giving too much away. I mean, the show isn't spoilerable. It has been out for years. People know it.
Kristy: That's true. Okay. Yes, Javert commits suicide because he can't accept that Valjean is a good man. But instead of letting us feel for Javert, his shame and anguish, his fall -- which in the show broke my heart -- is interrupted by his body loudly cracking on a barricade in the water. It just seemed cruel, and frankly in bad taste. It felt like a judgment. A “fuck you” to Javert.
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