Watson’s Review of Les Miserables

Look out at the Toulon dock on the right day in 1815 and you shall see a magnificent sight: a monster sailing ship being dragged to dry land by ropes exhaustively heaved by a raggedy chain gang who are thrashed by waves as they sing a song of slavery. This is the big opening to Tom Hooper’s epic musical “Les Misérables,” and it’s as perfect an introduction as one could possibly concoct: staggering in its weight and colossal in scale, the vast war vessel is like the film itself, if a little less melodious, while the prisoners’ grumbled rendition of “Look Down” is, like most of the upcoming numbers, less merry than it is appropriately miserable.

And in a curiously rhythmic discussion between pitiless prison guard Javert (Russell Crowe, “The Man with the Iron Fists”) and prisoner 24601, aka Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman, “Real Steel”), we are given a succulent sampling of the uniquely authentic musical stylings that are in store: as Javert explains the terms of Valjean’s release after 19 years of hard labour (for the minor offense of stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving niece) and Valjean pleads in vain to be treated like a fellow human being, the two sing their conversation, belting out each syllable with operatic, vein-popping force, a trait carried on for the entirety of this sprawling musical juggernaut. (Continue Reading…)

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For more from Stephen Watson, visit Just Another Movie Blog!

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