‘Les Miserables’ falls down despite strong performances

'Les Miserables' falls down despite strong performances

‘Les Miserables’ should have been a masterpiece. You have Broadway’s darling, Hugh Jackman, the always-reliable Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, who gets better and better with each film, and other great youngsters like Amanda Seyfried and Eddie Redmayne. Also, who better to direct it than Tom Hooper, Oscar-winning director of ‘The King’s Speech?’

Despite this, it wasn’t a masterpiece. It was alright. There were, however, some things that worked.

Anne Hathaway. I defy even the hardiest filmgoer to keep dry eyes when she sings ‘I Dreamed a Dream.’ Hathaway was far and away the peak of the film, singing the best song and giving the best performance as Fantine. She deserves an Oscar if not for the song alone, which she sang live and nailed on her first take.

Hugh Jackman was great as well, being tailor made for Jean Valjean. He brings to the character a new kind of desperation and angst that others, notably Liam Neeson, substantially lacked in their portrayals of the famous character. He’s been nominated for an Oscar, deservedly so, but he won’t win.

The live singing overall, singing live on camera and not in studio, gave the film such a real and believable air. Of course, that means the singing is not going to be perfect. But I was not there for pitch perfect songs with obvious lip-synching; I was there for real, emotional performances, and that is what I got.

There was plenty that did not work.

Most noticeable is Hathaway’s absence. Despite her legendary performance, she is only on screen for about 20 minutes in the beginning of the film, and she is sorely missed throughout.

The best parts of the film, Jackman’s first solo and, of course, Hathaway’s ‘I Dreamed a Dream,’ take place in the first quarter of the film. I was left waiting for an equally epic and emotional performance later, but those that followed were just not good enough to rival the film’s beginning.

This, coupled with the movie’s 157 minute run-time, will have you squirming in your seat, waiting to get through the film’s multiple, overlong endings.

No spoilers, of course, but there is a scene that should have absolutely been the climax. The performance in this scene is perfect, and Hooper rolls right over it into a completely needless scene. The performances in the last part of the film were fantastic, but the endings take about 30 minutes to get through.

Finally, why, you may ask, is Tom Hooper not nominated for Best Director? Because no one wants to see Hugh Jackman’s tonsils for two and half hours. I like the grit, and I like how raw the film is, but any time anyone sings the camera is practically down their throat.

All of this in consideration, you should still go see this film. It is certainly an epic undertaking and worthy of its Oscar nominations. If not for anything else, go see Hathaway in a performance of a lifetime.

By Keegan Bockhorst