10 Reasons Les Miserables Misses The Mark
Sean: Another judgment. Which Hooper can't seem to avoid. And yes, I agree. It is in bad taste, because it's an obvious addition on the director's part. My next complaint will need your Les Mis expertise, but it also speaks to Hooper's bad choice as a director.
#7 - The direction for each performance seemed to be "Faster, louder, faster!"
I felt like each performer, perhaps in a struggle to keep up with the music that played behind them as they sang live (and can we hear about that enough?), rushed the emotion. And as I mention, they all seem to sing at a consistently high register. So it amounts to shouting. Not emoting. Not convincing us of the emotion, Shouting. And racing to keep up with the music. Is that a fault of Les Mis, or of Hooper?
Kristy: Yeah, for all the talk about recording live, it didn't seem a huge advantage, aside from Hathaway's solo, which is breathtaking. Much of it still feels canned. Part of that might be because some of the sequences have characters singing together, but in different locations. I doubt there were multiple cameras making sure everyone was live and together.
Sean: Let's get through our last three points. You mentioned that the movie nose-dives after Hathaway exits, but was there something about the second half of the film that you thought really sank its chances at success?
Kristy: Well, Cossette and Marius's romance -- while important thematically -- is so underdeveloped that it just seems silly. I couldn't get invested. They bored me. #8 - The undercooked love story.
Sean: Wait, you didn't believe their "love at first sight" moment?
Kristy: In the show, they bore me too, but frankly that's no excuse. A movie should succeed on it's own merit, and beyond being a barely there plot Eddie Redmayne and Amanda Seyfried have zero sexual chemistry. But even this could have been saved if the film's editing had some sense of musicality to it. Instead, #9 The Editing Abrasively Starts and Stops.
Like, there's one big number -- I think its "One Day More" -- where EVERY character is singing, and then when it hit the finale, it just cuts to the next day and silence. I actually laughed out loud at how awkward and jarring that cut was.
Sean: And it's one of several.
Kristy: It is! It makes it feel like a checklist! ďDid that one! Moving on.Ē
Sean: Hooper doesn't do the majority of his cast any favors. There's no flow. Which is OK, I guess, if you're doing an adaptation that's going to cling to the artifice of a stage production. But I felt from the get-go that Hooper wanted his Les Mis to exist in the outside world ... except when he didn't. And it's awkward.
But not as awkward as #10 - Everyone overacts instead of acts. How do you feel about this? I thought every performance -- even Hathaway's -- was set to the Spinal Tap setting of #11. None of them pulled me in. OK, Hathaway's fit her part. It's a devastating scene, and it required her histrionics. But the rest ... it's all over a piece of stolen bread. Stolen bread! Why is everyone ramping it up into overdrive in every damn scene?!
Kristy: Exactly. There's no downtime or variation. Everyone in this movie has SO MANY FEELINGS and they feel them full force. All the time. And there's little sense of cohesion in which direction you go, so you have the Thenadiers doing full-force camp and the lovers do full-force moony eyes, and it makes for many one-note performances.
I was sad when this movie was over, but not for the reasons I'd hoped to be. I was crushed by disappointment, not by empathy with the narrative's characters.
Sean: You and me both. I can't wait to watch it win Best Picture.
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