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Friday, March 22, 2013

Le Pain and Suffering - Les Misérables - BluRay/DVD Review

Les Misérables - BluRay and DVD (includes Digital Copy and Ultraviolet)
Available Mar. 22nd 2013


Lots have been said about the film when it came out in cinemas. Between the raves, the backlash, the backlash on the backlash, and the backlash on the backlash on the backlash, somewhere in between, is probably where I land on with the film. A film based on the famous musical by Alain Boubil and Claude Schönberg that I like, but don't think, like many fans, is the best musical ever or some orgasmic response. Still, it's a musical with stunning music that we all know by now, and while there is a level of respect for the original musical (which I have seen on stage several times), translating a musical to film is a totally different game. One that sometime succeeds (Chicago, Hairspray) and sometimes fails (Rent, Nine).


Director Tom Hooper makes some bold choices, and I admire his vision in trying to give us a realistic vision of the despair and emotional heartbreaks in Les Misérables, with live sung-through performances that ante up the dramatic acting at the sake of perfect singing. The "realistic" singing didn't bother me as much as it seems to have bothered many out there. I was fine with sacrificing being perfectly in key for
acting.

It was the technical elements that bothered me most about the film, including the camerawork and the stage-looking set design that countered the realistic tone Hooper seemed to be going for. However the shaky cam that is nauseating on the big screen is, while still an unnecessary creative choice, is less bothersome on the small screen in the BluRay/DVD release of Les Mis. The music still sounds great, but now I only wish some of the plotholes were smoothed out between the stage and filming. What one can excuse on stage with theatrical elements, seems to feel very jumpy, or cheesily overdramatic on film (like the whole purpose of Inspector Javert and his motivations).


Still, the performances, from Oscar winner Anne Hathaway, to Hugh Jackman, to Eddie Redmayne, Aaron Tveit, Colm Wilkinson, Daniel Huttlestone, and so on, are stellar, and despite which way you sway on Russell Crowe's singing, he gives Inspector Javert the heft and a nice counterpoint to Jackman.

The BluRay/DVD set includes features on Victor Hugo's original masterwork, on creating the sets for the film, plus a full commentary with director Tom Hooper.

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