Friday, December 28, 2012
Les Miserables, The Movie Killed the Dream.
So far, the trailer for Les Miserables is one of the best films of the year. Anne Hathaway whimper-singing "I Dreamed a Dream" gets me every time. Unfortunately, the trailer somehow made me forget that Les Miserables only has four good songs (I Dreamed a Dream, On My Own, Master of the House, and Little Fall of Rain). The film reminded me.
Les Miserables is a grand attempt at a film composed entirely of song. The characters sing even the simplest of phrases, which is almost always obnoxious and usually set to a reprise of one of the few songs that actually matter. We spend a lot of the time listening to Hugh Jackman sing-speak something that's already inferred, and the content of his soliloquy is usually as dull as the tune.
And since it takes an hour for Hugh Jackman to sing that he has to go to the bathroom, other things get missed. It's hard to care for characters that are only onscreen for a few minutes of a three hour movie. I don't care if they die or if the boy they like doesn't like them back. You should, for the most part, be able to take the music out of a musical and still have a valid film. Such is not the case with Les Miserables. Here is how it would have gone:
Hugh Jackman is in prison for stealing a loaf of bread. He gets released and can't find work because he's marked as a dangerous man. A priest takes pity on him and gives him a place to stay. Hugh Jackman steals from the priest and gets caught. The priest tells the police that he gave Hugh Jackman the stuff he stole. Hugh Jackman decides to break parole and start a new life. This segment actually worked except for the music being awful.
Fast forward to Hugh Jackman, who is now the mayor of a town and runs a business in which women stand around knitting. Anne Hathaway works at Hugh Jackman's business and the other bitches find out she has a daughter, get really butthurt about it, and tell the foreman. The foreman fires Anne Hathaway for being a huge slut. In about three minutes, Anne Hathaway sells her hair, her teeth, and becomes a prostitute. In other words, she pulls a really fast Lindsay Lohan. Also, being a prostitute for three minutes somehow kills Anne Hathaway.
Hugh Jackman feels bad that Anne Hathaway has such a low-resistance to being a prostitute and decides to take care of her daughter. But, before he does that, he makes sure to tell everyone that he broke his parole, because taking care of a little girl isn't very fun unless you're running from Russell Crowe.
Fast forward again and Anne Hathaway's daughter has turned into Amanda Seyfried. Amanda Seyfried eyes up a dude in the street and they immediately fall in love. Russell Crowe somehow shows up again and Hugh Jackman gets scared. Amanda Seyfried's new boyfriend is trying to start the French Revolution. He's bad at it. The other girl who loves him for some reason takes a bullet for him. Hugh Jackman finds out that Amanda Seyfried and the dude fell in love in three seconds and goes to rescue him. A little kid gets shot. Everyone cries. Russell Crowe kills himself because Hugh Jackman could have killed him and didn't. Then Hugh Jackman ages ten years in two days and dies.
Congratulations, you just saw the movie without the music. Besides the mumble singing and the few actual musical numbers, the movie is just some stuff happening way too fast. Musical numbers are supposed to amplify the emotion/plot, but in Les Miserables they replace it. The film is three hours of actors stumbling about, singing bullshit, making big musical deals about insignificant things, and shrugging off the significant ones. At least I've seen the non-musical Les Miserables, so I could pretend the characters mattered.
Just watch the trailer instead. Or Pitch Perfect.