Wednesday, December 26, 2012

12-26-12 Les Mis with Sammi

Sammi has been chomping at the bit for weeks to go see the film version of Les Misérables, listening to the soundtrack, watching clips online, and generally salivating over the prospect of this Broadway musical on the big screen. 

It opened yesterday.

When Nick came home and heard us talking about going on Christmas afternoon, he said he wanted to come with. We looked at him a little strangely but said he was welcome. It was a few days later that he discovered this film with Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman was, in fact, a musical. It's only one of the longest running, most decorated musicals in theater history, in fact. But he's also infatuated with a few too many Taylor Swift songs, if that tells you anything. 

So yesterday Sammi and I went, alone, as it should be, to catch the 4:30 show. Except, when we arrived at 3:30, it was already sold out. The parking lot was packed (and icy) and we did the best we could by purchasing the next time slot, at 7:00, and returning home, but only for a little while, since we now knew there would be an even better chance the 7:00 would be packed out as well. We returned at 5:45 to find the line for our show about 70 people deep. Sam and I, thanks to Christmas, could read different books on our Kindles while we sat on line until 6:30. 

We still managed center seats in our favorite spot, about 7 rows up from the division between the lower and upper sections, and I made certain not to drink anything, which meant I did not have to climb over the 20 people to the left and right of us at any point during the three hours and 49 songs.

Yes, Nick. 49 Songs. You dodged a bullet.

I really tried to bite my tongue, at least for the first half of the film, for Sammi's sake. But geez louise, talk about overkill. It's as though the director (Tom Hooper) was so horrified that the audience might miss out on the MEANING of THINGS he could not stop himself from hitting us all over the head with the baseball bat of SYMBOLISM. I suppose at the bottom of this, I just don't like being treated as though I am stupid. I prefer a bit of subtlety and finesse and, yes, as films go, that's probably a bit much to ask of a Broadway musical based on a Victor Hugo novel. It became a bit of a drinking game: how many ways did Hooper infuse the scene with overt symbolism. Had I any liquor to use, Sam would have been driving us home after the first scene.

In ascending order of the three big names:
Russell Crowe -- kudos for trying, but painful in a number of places
Hugh Jackman -- serviceable, quite impressive in spots, straining in others
Anne Hathaway -- Wow. The only problem is Fantine dies really early in the film and doesn't come back until the final scene. 

Sasha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter steal the show and chew up the scenery as the Thénardiers, and of the three in the love triangle, I most enjoyed Samantha Barks as Éponine, although her phrasing in places was decidedly more pop sounding than anyone else's. 

Ten year old Isabelle Allen is adorable as the wide-eyed young Cossette, but it was young Daniel Huttlestone as Gavroche that I was most taken with. I must not be the only one. IMDB is showing him, a complete unknown, now in their top 5000. 

Sam asked what songs I liked best and, of course, "I Dreamed a Dream" is always a winner. But let's not leave out the huge "One More Day" and the swelling closer "Do You Hear the People Sing" off that list. And I can't be the only one in the theater who thought of Newtown as Marius wept through "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables." 

And remember
The truth that once was spoken
To love another person
Is to see the face of God.


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