Like so many others I have been eagerly awaiting the release of the Les Miserables movie for months. This upcoming Friday I will finally get to see the finished product – to say I’m excited would be an understatement.
I have given the movie soundtrack a listen in the last few days and thought I’d share my views. Obviously these are based on the songs alone since I haven’t seen the actual movie yet. I’m fully aware that the songs might come across in a different light in context with the film.
Lets start with Russel Crowe as Javert. I was really sceptical about this casting but after listening to his version of “Stars” I’ve changed my mind. He doesn’t have a power voice like Hadley Fraser or Tam Mutu (to name just two) but I quite like his rather soft version of the song. His Javert seems to be more subtle and less forceful and aggressive than (for example) Hadley Fraser’s Javert.
I totally adore Samantha Barks’ version of “On my own”. However, judging from “I dreamt a dream” Anne Hathaway is the star in this movie. I was tearing up just listening to her sing and I’ll probably be a complete mess watching her on the big screen.
I generally don’t really like Cosette as a character but Amanda Seyfried does a good job singing the songs. Eddie Redmayne (Marius) is a great singer, no doubt about that. Personally I don’t really like the tone of his voice but that is just my preference. I’m really impressed by Aaron Tveit as Enjolras – such a fantastic voice!
Don’t crucify me for this but I still think Helena Bonham Carter is no singer at all. She’s a good actress and I’m sure her portrayal of Madame Thenardier works in the movie but I just think her voice lacks power. Plus when listening to “Master of the house” to me it sounds like Madame Thenardier is completely drunk which is a bit strange. Sacha Baron Cohen seems to be really funny as Thenardier but his accent irritates me – it sounds too much like “Borat goes Thenardier” to me if that makes any sense.
Which leaves me with the one and only Hugh Jackman. Now, some of you may know that I adore Mr. Jackman. I flew to New York in 2009 mainly because he was staring in “A Steady Rain” on Broadway and I have sat through quite a few rather bad movies just because of him (Real Steel springs to mind). So as you can imagine I was really looking forward to hearing his take on those epic songs in Les Miserables. I’ve listened to the soundtrack a few times to make up my mind about his singing and I’m still not really sure what to think I have to say. My main “problem” with his voice is that it seems a bit too harsh. I don’t like his “Bring him home” at all I’m sad to say – he starts out way too forcefully and his voice doesn’t really suit the song. I quite like the confrontation and he does well in “One day more” (apart from cutting several notes a bit too short for my liking). One song that really stands out is “Suddenly” which has been written especially for the movie. This one seems to be made for Hugh’s voice and is definitely his singing highlight on the soundtrack.
All in all I have to say I won’t listen to his version of the songs a lot. However, I’m pretty sure it will be a whole different think when I’m actually watching the movie. So I shall reserve final judgement until later this week.
The soundtrack as a stand alone gets 3 out of 5 stars from me. It’s definitely a must have for any Les Miserables fan and just “I dreamt a dream”, “On my own” and “Suddenly” make it a valuable item in any CD collection. However, when it comes to just listening to the Les Miserables score I would choose the cast recording of the actual stage show over the movie soundtrack any time.
Update – 13th January
So, after watching the Les Miserable movie at the IMAX on Friday I thought I should add my thoughts on it. I’m not going to do a long review but I will say this: This is one of the most glorious movies I have seen in my life. Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway are beyond amazing and I really enjoyed Russel Crowe’s more subtle take on Javert. He makes the part his own even though he doesn’t have the most powerful voice.
I still think Hugh Jackman’s voice isn’t right for Bring him home but that didn’t really bother me. His Valjean is raw and pure and he puts so much emotion into his performance – that one not so brilliant song really doesn’t take anything away from an outstanding portrayal.
Samantha Bark’s Eponine is simply wonderful. Actually there isn’t a weak link in the whole film. Even Helena Bonham-Carter (who I still think should give up the singing) fits in perfectly. Her and Sacha Baron Cohen are brilliantly funny and put a bit of a light note on an otherwise pretty sad and dramatic movie.
It was nice to see some familiar faces on the big screen: Hadley Fraser, Fra Fee, Caroline Sheen, Bertie Carvel and Stuart Neal, to name just a few. I will definitely have to watch the movie again focusing more on spotting the “West End Wendies”.
All in all Les Miserables is a through and through amazing movie. Obviously it’s based on the stage version of the story but some bits of the book have been added which works really well. I urge all of you to go and see this movie. But don’t forget to take tissues along!