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Archive for the ‘Baron Sasha Cohen’ Category

Les Misérables

25 Jan

Les Misérables – directed by Tom Hooper. Musical-melodrama. A prisoner upon his release breaks parole and is hounded by a magistrate all his life, despite his reformed nature. 158 minutes Color 2012.
★★★★
Many people relate to this material, for it has had a world-wide success which in no way will this film abate. But I am baffled as to why.

All I can suppose is that in an age of crass and faithless self-deception such as ours, the noble strain in humans is invisible, and that folks want to go along with and believe in someone who is faithful, not crass, and undeceiving at heart. Few modern screen actors possess a noble strain, and Hugh Jackman certainly is one of them, and is so obvious for the part one is shocked to hear others had been considered. Jackman has done various musicals before, and has the voice to boot. It is a treat to watch his beautiful face.

The terrible difficulty is that the music is paltry.

The terrible difficulty with the music is that every time someone belches they go into an aria. Every time someone walks through a door, they start singing. It’s a through-written musical, but it never knows when to be through.

The difficulty is that the part of Éponine scrambles to the fore at a late stage, where it is needed not at all, and performs nothing but a drain on our loyalties.

The difficulty is that Russell Crowe cannot perform the role of Javert, the magistrate, either musically or dramatically. He stands there pumping his energy out in little spurts. But what you need to do to play that part is either be Charles Laughton or watch what Charles Laughton did. Javert is a great role, and Laughton’s is one of the great characterizations ever put on film. Crowe’s performance is a nullity.

The supporting performances are fine, more or less, right from the stage though they are. And someone should win an Oscar for the wigs. Anne Hathaway sings her number well. Helen Bonham Carter and Sasha Baron Cohen make hay with the Master Of The House material, which is more stage-worthy than cinematic, but never mind. And Eddie Redmayne, once again miscast as a romantic lead, nevertheless once again rises to the occasion and sings all his little songs well.

All his little songs. There are no other sorts of songs, save the big patter numbers, which are the usual Broadway stuff (and welcome). Every time someone sings one of these little songs, they become self-tragic. And each time they do, the story diminishes in size, just as the songs do, just as the character who sings the song does. Everything gets littler. Perhaps that’s what miserableness means.

There is an opening image of a great huge foundering frigate being dragged into drydock. It seems a suitable symbol for Les Misérables, a vast dismembered hulk hauled before us.

 
 
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