I went to see this film as a complete Les Mis virgin, having no idea as to the storyline, and having never seen any previous production nor having read the novel.
But I enjoy musicals (both in the theatre and film versions) and I went with an open mind, and looking forward to seeing something a little different from the norm. Sadly, within the first few minutes, I knew I'd made a mistake, and this has become one of my most hated films of all time.
Indeed, I always rate films but rarely review them, but I just had to get this off my chest. Particularly because so many reviews seem to be gushing about its brilliance, and although I'm fully prepared to admit that my views are in the minority, I think it's important to air them if only in the interest of balance and representation.
It didn't take long to realise that every single word of the dialogue was to be 'sung'. I say 'sung' rather than sung, because it wasn't what I could really refer to as singing. Just because one woooooord of any given liiiiiine is extended like thiiiiiis, does not, in my mind, make it 'singing'. In fact, if it weren't for the extended words in nearly every sentence, the film would likely have been at least thirty minutes shorter.
The lack of spoken dialogue really detracted from many of the scenes. When even the most mundane of sentences has to be delivered in such a way, it becomes grating. I wouldn't have been at all surprised for someone to bellow out "pass the saaaaaalt". It was just awful.
And the repetition! I understand that chords and themes repeat throughout musicals, often linking similarities between scenes and concepts and characters. It isn't that I don't understand that. But this was too much. It was as though the same tones and flow were repeated every four lines. Every. Four. Lines. With the third or fourth wooooooords extended. Every. Single Time.
I'm getting wound up reliving the moment and I've waited till the following morning before doing this review in case my opinion mellowed.
And the duration of the film only served to make it worse. Occasionally the film would announce via on-screen text that it was now "8 years later", or whatever. And I felt as though I'd been there for that entire time. In fact, it felt like longer.
It became one of those films which leaves you feeling physically drained from the effort of battling through it. It was that bad. It felt like I've undergone a test of endurance and although I got through it, it wasn't without mental scarring!
Beyond the monotony, repetition and delivery, there was the story, which (perhaps as I had no prior knowledge of the source) was nonsensical. People falling in love within a single glance, which then goes on to motivate someone else to endure warfare to carry the person, half-dead? Chasing someone for what, 17 years, because of breaking parole for a loaf of bread, which itself warranted a previous 19 years of suffering? Only to then throw yourself to your death?
Am I meant to believe these characters? Am I meant to care about them?
Anne Hathaway's deterioration from factory worker to cropped and toothless prostitute was compacted into all of 42 seconds, so when it came to her performance of I Dreamed A Dream (which was a rare highlight in the film) its impact was stunted because why should we care about this woman? She's only just been introduced to us and we know nothing about her (presumably because everyoooooone is too busy singing like thiiiiiiiis instead of actually making us caaaaaaare).
Yet apparently Hugh Jackman cares so much about her that he then devotes his entire life to her child? It was mentioned at the very beginning that he has a sister and a nephew of his own, why not take care of them? Or were they dead (as he went to a cross in the ground after being paroled) but if that's the case it wasn't explained well.
A film should be able to stand on its own two feet and not require its audience to have read the book or seen the musical. The Harry Potter books far exceed the movies, yet people can enjoy the movies on their own merit. Not so with Les Mis.
And the casting was bizarre as well. I don't understand why the casting was given to Hollywood actors instead of singers. Borat? Really?? And accents were flying all over the place. Early in the film, when Hugh Jackman is in the church, he suddenly sounds as though he's stepped off the first boat from Ireland, and half of the cast of jumped straight out of a Mary Poppins chalk drawing!
I can't find a single redeeming feature to mention about this film. Miscast. Rubbish sets (most of it looking like obvious CGI). Repetitive 'singing'. No spoken dialogue. Nonsensical plot. Ridiculous pacing. No character development or involvement.
Beyond doubt one of the worst films I have ever watched, and I would sooner have my teeth extracted by a French street urchin than ever have to endure this horror again.