“Les Misérables” – ‘Meh’ in A major

Have you ever seen a Bentley commercial? Who am I kidding, you probably have, but I sure haven’t. You don’t see them very often at least. The point I’m trying to make here is that good quality product sells itself and does not require extensive marketing campaigns and such. With all the noise and fuss about “Les Mis” (I still can’t get over this sad realization that the title is abbreviated for the sole benefit of native English speakers who would injure themselves while trying to pronounce it properly) I got what I deserved – a dud.

les mis

I am not big on musicals, I have to say, but I can appreciate good talent and a good story and for the record, “Les Misérables” has plenty of talent and a story that just had to sell – especially with all the hoopla. I shall reiterate what probably most critics have stated already: If you like musicals and you are a fan of the West End and Broadway productions of “Les Mis”, you’ll probably love it. I, however, did not.

It was a struggle beyond belief, a two-and-a-half hour long ordeal with me anxiously looking at my watch every other minute and contemplating the possibility of putting myself out of my misery. I clearly don’t get what the fuss was all about with this film. Sure, I see how Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman had managed to win the Academy over and scored their respective Oscar nominations. Other than that, I seriously suspect that most of the praise for “Les Misérables” comes from the fact that ‘it is expected for you to do so if you don’t want to look like a moron’, like there was some sort of a cult around it. Well, I don’t mind looking like an idiot, so why don’t you sing about it while you’re at it?

Watching “Les Mis” felt really awkward, because I assumed that having a camera at your disposal would enable you to show things inaccessible on stage. Nothing was achieved in that particular department. And, no – shooting everything in close-up did not work for me at all.

Why on Earth would you take a perfectly OK stage production and just film it? I mean, try to be creative and do something to adapt it for the screen. You can’t just cram the stage in front of a camera, yell ‘action’ and expect to produce something different than a steaming pile of doo-doo. Take away all the whoop-dee-doo and you are left with 157 minutes of cheap-looking theatre-like decorations smeared with CGI here and there… and singing people, of course. Don’t get me wrong, through the first 40 minutes or so, I actually cared and appreciated their respective talents. After a while, however, it just became more and more annoying to the point of preventing me from being able to follow the story. I know it’s the trait of the genre and I know the characters need to break into a song to vocalize their thoughts, but I feel it belongs on a stage, where fake sword fights and songs do mix. All I was left at the end of the day was a fragmented storyline and little sense of what actually was going on…

Correct me if I’m wrong, but my spidey-sense is telling me that “Les Misérables” was created solely in order to woo the Academy and score big time at the Oscars with all the big names and Broadway nostalgia, but in reality the film seems forced, stuffy and unpleasant. And the only tears I shed were the tears of joy when the credits rolled. Full stop.

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