Christmas with Les Misérables (2012)

LESMIS

2012 really cannot be better enough for me!

Is it because of our “doomsday resurrection”? Is it because we survived the test? I’ve just had one of the loveliest and most endearing Christmases this year. Lovely friends, lovely pressies, lovely everything. My Korean drama fandom is alight in FIRE I’m in flailing cray cray mode. My cinematic experience has been nothing but a lovable and enjoyable ride this year (yes I’m talking about you, Pi and Bond). And the good just doesn’t seem to stop COMING.

Les Misérables on Christmas day itself, how lovely? Our initial plan was to watch Life of Pi (yes again, I know I’m getting out of hand but this film is amazing I think it’s my favourite this year!) but hopes were dashed – full house into its last week of showing here! But blessings and love come in different ways and forms, we managed to secure seats for the newly aired Les Misérables instead. It was a surprise because most people flock to newly premiered films like herds of sheep, and turn out for Les Mis 3 days into its premier was just hmmm.. I guess people aren’t quite used to musical adaptations here? I dunno.

And what a fantastic ride I had with the actors! The performances, amidst everything, totally BLEW MY FCKING MIND AWAY! All so emotionally and painfully grabbing, such an agonizing experience, of outbursts and of reality. I didn’t stream as much tears as I’d expected myself to, but darn, all those emotionally gripping performances, sung out of the most distressing feels (and LIVE by the actors imagine that!), my tears lingered, my heart ached. I cannot but commend every single one of the actors for delivering their pieces spot on from the deepest and bottomest of their hearts. There wasn’t a song sung in perfection or completeness, there were glitches and off keys, awkward pitches gone haywire here and there, but such imperfection did not dampen the spirit of the performances, they instead heightened the emotional turmoil and heartbreak, the ugliness of reality. I was torn to shreds.

Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway in particular gave performances of their LIFE, so into their own and heart-gripping you cannot ever look away. They way they infused such real emotions into their depiction of devastation (through singing), jaw-dropping and astounding. I have never seen Hugh this into and engrossed in his own take of a character so torn and desperate for mercy and resurrection. His performance was explosive, effervescent with bouts of complicated emotions, so raw and out there. But Anne takes the cake by giving one of the most emotionally torn performances I have ever seen, in a film. I have no idea how Fantine should be like in the original, but here she took Fantine and broke her to pieces and shreds. Her short sequence of “I Dreamed a Dream” consumed and swallowed me, drowned me in her dire soul, gave me goosebumps, made my hair stand. It was raw and haunting, desolate but beautiful. I have never seen Anne this broken, it’s as if she was experiencing the real pain of Fantine. Amazing.

The rest of the actors gave convincing if not heartfelt performances, ranging from the piercing pain of Eponine’s one-sided love (conveyed beautifully by newcomer Samantha Barks) to the silliest of her parents played by acclaimed Borat actor Sascha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter. The song pieces were painfully beautiful (and some fun and amusing) in the actors’ own interpretations, everyone had a time and moment to shine.

The film itself wasn’t a flawless piece however, the performances packed punches but the story didn’t, the execution didn’t, at least in my opinion. I have not read or seen the original, even the musical adaptation isn’t anything close to familiar that I’ve heard of. I think this alone hindered me in appreciating the main point of the film, I didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t know the original story. It felt like a film of many messages, explicit and explicit alike, but no one point was thoroughly emphasised or no one point felt like the driving point of the show. Every single sub-plot, from Jaen’s redemption, to his rivalry with Javier, to Fantine’s deplorable situation, to his taking in and raising of Cossette, her love with Marius, and to the backdrop highlight of the French revolution.. everything felt there and yet so unreachable and unrelatable. I’d say in plain words, there was a certain disconnect between the plots I found hard to accept. Maybe it the film was longer, or if the film had been split into few parts, or made into a series, it’d be easier for me to join the dots better.

Nevertheless, I cannot say I was not impressed by the sweat, the effort and heart put into this production, especially by director Tom Hooper who insisted that the whole cast sung their pieces live. You could see the actors reach deep inside themselves, within their souls, pulled out their ugliest and rawest of emotions. Although the execution of the several sub-plots did not manage to convince me overall, I feel everyone and every actor deserves a hard and long applause. They all deserve a standing ovation. It’s  product of heart and soul, a product of rawness so not to be missed by anyone and everyone. It’s an amazing feat if you consider the performances as a standalone.

If you haven’t found anything meaningful or productive to do in your remaining days of the year, if you’re in for something capable of making you feel alive and human, or heck, even if you have things planned out, you most definitely still MUST make time to watch Les Misérables.

Have a trailer to weep over:

credits: DanceOn @ youtube/ picture as tagged

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14 thoughts on “Christmas with Les Misérables (2012)”

    1. Yes, never read, never seen or even heard of the musical/movie/story until I saw the trailer. The actors’ performances were fantastic and engulfing, that alone warrants a rewatch. 😉

      Have you seen it?

      1. Oh yea. I’m an old pro with everything Les Mis. Lol. Absolutely live it. From story down to musical. Saw the film Christmas Day and greatly enjoyed it. Not the best but solid. Very solid. Even enjoyed Hopper’s perspective.

      2. Cool, I’m such a noob when it comes to literary stuff. I think I may need to read or watch the original. Guh I’m envious that ppl get to watch live musicals and recitals from time to time, if only my place had such exposure sighs. I’ve only seen Sound of Music and Wicked, that enough to leave deep impressions. The feels of experiencing everything live, love it~~

        I was told there’s a Les Mis film by Liam Neeson? Worth checking out?

      3. Literature was my world growing up. Anything classic. Anything I could get my hands on.
        As for the movie… Hmm. Neeson is great, as usual, but the film… I think it would be better to read, then watch. Then you would have substantial background material to compare.
        Yea it’s kind of great seeing things live. You’ve seen Wicked? Finally, gonna see it in March and my sis is finally seeing Phantom of the Opera next week. Sound of Music is my favorite stage to celluloid film. It’s the best ever done.

      4. Hi fives chinggu, I lovelovelove Sound of Music, watched it countless times as a kid, NEVER gets old. Only got to watch the stage play a few years back, brought back so many memories, the songs everything. A recent episode of Qualifications of Men (on KBSW) featured a make-shift choir performing all the songs from SOM in a competition, every single piece made me cry T___T the family feels, the nostalgia, lovely!

        I’m glad you’re getting to see Wicked, it’s wicked fantastic, you will def not regret!

      5. I was singing and dancing to SOM in the womb. True story. Always been my favorite, till I met Les Mis. But I watch it several times each year. Christopher Plummer *sigh*, still wish I could have been onset and legal enough to successfully flirt with him. Lol. A girl and her dreams…

  1. I am SO looking forward to this movie!!! I rarely take the trouble of getting myself into a theatre for a movie – yunno, with all that kdrama occupying me & all! – but THIS is something I SO WANNA SEE!! 😀 It just looks all kinds of amazing ~

  2. This story is the love of my life, falling in love with it since I was a five year old when listening to the radio version. Have seen almost all the movie adaptations and the musical – all turning me into a crying baby. Looking forward to seeing this in a few days time.

    1. Woooow you were exposed to bitterness pain at a very young age! Now I really want to see the stage live. Can’t be better than feeling everything first hand eh?

  3. Some values deserve some explanation — Amanda Seyfried, who played adult Cosette, is certainly a star, but I didn’t feel that presence much in this movie. Helena Bonham Carter is probably more than one arbitrary unit better at singing than Sacha Baron Cohen in this movie, and less than a full arbitrary unit behind him in star power (it’s debatable she might even bring a bit more star power to her role than he does to his, although he is currently the bigger star with the bigger part), but I was constrained by the number of significant digits in my arbitrary measurement instrument readings. As for Miserable-ness, Cosette, Eponine and Marius are certainly sad parts at times, but the bright, youthful, almost Glee-ish prettiness of the performances in the movie drew off a lot of that intensity for me. Russel Crowe, whose character isn’t that sad most of the time, brought a lot of weight to his role, even if his singing skill is out of place next to all the trained musical theater actors and is more appropriately measured in Foot-of-Grunts . And yes, he gets a 9 on star power. It’s why he’s there.

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