Reflections on Les Miserables (2012)
By Meghan McCabe
Any girl who moves to a new city at the beginning of seventh grade had better have a musical to lose herself in on a regular basis. Les Miserables was mine. I know I wasn’t the only teenager who cried herself to sleep listening to “On My Own” over and over again. When I was feeling a little more optimistic, I switched to “A Little Fall of Rain”, the song that captures the moment when Eponine is at last in her beloved Marius’s arms, right before she dies. Clearly I could have used more than a little boost of self-esteem in middle school!
Enough about the angst of my past. I am a through and through Les Miserables fanatic, and as such, I loved the 2012 movie adaptation of the musical. I’ve seen many adaptations of the novel, and attended several performances of the musical, and the new movie provided a similar experience to seeing it performed live, with the added benefit of vast scenery and thrilling special effects.
My favorite casting decisions were Samantha Barks as Eponine, lending her West End stage chops to a very movie-actor-heavy film, and the Thenardiers, because I’m pretty sure Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen were born to play the Madame and Monsieur. I would have preferred if the Bishop ended up playing both Valjean and Javert instead—it’s a shame to have Colm Wilkinson, THE Jean Valjean, with such a small (although important) role. I was sure that Russell Crowe and Amanda Seyfried would be hilariously bad, but they ended up surprising me and carrying their parts well, considering.
Anne Hathaway would be a great choice for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Fantine. Emotions ran high during all of her scenes, just as it should be. She even had her own hair dramatically chopped off during a song—pretty hard-core. Hugh Jackman did a great job, but doesn’t stand much of a chance up against Daniel Day-Louis. I could also see the movie winning for Costume Design and Makeup. I really hope it doesn’t win for Best Original Song, because that should definitely go to Skyfall. I have a sneaking suspicion they only added the song “Suddenly” to Les Miserables in order to have a shot at that Oscar category, because it was a pretty boring number, and took up time they could have used for something more worthwhile.
I doubt that Les Miserables will win best picture, just as I know that this movie is not for everyone. Many people dislike the musical, finding it overly dramatic and repetitive, and others don’t enjoy musicals at all. The movie was an excellent tribute to the musical, however, and most fans should enjoy it thoroughly. My one suggestion is that they re-release the movie, not in 3D, but as a sing-along—I’m sure that just as many people would pay to see it again in that format.
(c) 2013 Meghan McCabe