I admit I came late to Les Mis.
Despite being a young adult when it was in the theatre in my home town and despite studying French for many years and being a bit of a Victor Hugo fan, I didn’t go. I don’t know why. It’s possible that it fell in that window in which most of my money was spent on drinking and fast times. 😉
So when the movie came out I thought it was high time I caught up with this phenomenon. So I went. And I enjoyed it very much. It was visually gorgeous and the performances were, in my humble opinion, excellent. I thought the decision to use actors who could sing and record them as they acted was brilliant. Anne Hathaway deserved that Oscar. Her broken rendition of ‘I dreamed a dream’ was one of the most harrowing things I’ve seen on a screen in recent times.
But the upshot of all of this is that I get it now. I get why people adore this musical. There’s a great, sweeping story with love and death and heroism and vileness and more than a touch of madness, yes. But the main attraction is the music. It’s magnificent. It’s infectious. Indeed, after seeing the movie, I stomped around singing ‘I hear the people sing’ so many times that my darling daughter threatened to storm my barricades and make the streets run with my blood if I didn’t stop.
And it appears I am not alone in loving it. You must watch this wedding video which is a great testament to the musical, to how much these people like the married couple (because there was rehearsal involved) and what can happen if you leave the choristers alone with the beer for too long…
The movie also had some delightful surprises in the minor parts. One of them was Sascha Baron Cohen as the ‘Master of the House’. Is there nothing that the man cannot do? I admit, I do not especially like his comedy. That style of thing makes me squirm – but I can see how clever it is. Then, in Hugo (a truly delightful movie), I discovered he can really act drama as well. Then in this movie, he proves he can sing. Very talented man!
And Helena – ah, Helena. You have to love her. History will remember her as one of the finest actresses of her age – and the number one go-to girl when your character is ‘crazy in a corset’. Seriously, I do believe she’s cornered the market on these roles – and how well she does them! Think about it: Bellatrix Lestrange, the Red Queen, this one, Miss Havisham… Am I right? I’m right. Of course, she, too, is capable of many other things. She was wonderful in the King’s Speech, in a very straight role. And the bit in Harry Potter where she acted Hermione acting Bellatrix was so convincing that I had to remind myself that that was how it was done. I completely believed she was Hermione magicked into Helena Bonham Carter’s body. The skill! Brilliant! And she’s fantastic as the horrid, venal Madame Thenardier in the movie of Les Mis.
I couldn’t find a clip of the visuals of their big number, but this video lets you concentrate on the lyrics, which is good, because they’re clever!
I will definitely be adding this to my DVD musical collection when it’s out, which I think is soon.
What about you? Are you a musical fan? Did you enjoy Les Mis? Or would you rather have your toenails removed with pincers? Whaddayareckon?