Les MisérablesFeature Film |
A refreshingly raw and intimate take on Broadway's biggest sobfest.
Translating a beloved stage show to the screen is pointless if the filmmakers don't take full advantage of the new medium. In Tom Hooper's painstakingly faithful adaptation of the Broadway hit set against the backdrop of a post-Revolution France, the director adds an element rarely found in large-scale musicals: intimacy. Anyone familiar with Hooper's love of occasionally uncomfortable close-ups will notice this style on full display; stars Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway often spend entire songs merely inches from the camera, allowing the audience full access to Jean Valjean and Fantine's every facial tick and spit bubble. While this may inspire some viewers to reel backward in their seats, it taps into an emotional rawness typically absent in a two-dimensional musical like Les Misérables.
Other than the in-your-face cinematography and a handful of impressive set pieces, Hooper keeps the flourishes at bay and lets the musical performances take center stage, which is where the film truly shines. Instead of restricting the cast by recording their songs months earlier and lip-synching for the cameras, Hooper recorded the vocal performances live on set and added the accompaniment in post production. Fans of movie musicals should see this as the revolutionary approach that it is; in place of crystal clear recordings, we're rewarded with hearing Jackman's voice quiver and strain as he struggles against tears. Why big-screen musicals haven't used this live format until now is a mystery, as it enhances each and every actor's performance (save for a ho-hum turn from Russell Crowe as the stalwart Javert).
It's hard to imagine this rousing adaptation swaying the Les Misérables naysayers, but diehard fans and anyone interested in a stirring new approach to musicals on film should consider it a must-see. Though take this as a warning: it's a surprisingly dreary affair given its Christmas Day release date.
|Les Misérables trailer|