The ensemble cast is committed to this adaptation as they sing their hearts out. Hugh Jackman, a sing-and-dance man that’s known for his grisly Wolverine role, stands above the rest.
The raw performances result in jarring scenes that are painful to watch. The actors emote and try to hit the notes at the same time, captured in claustrophobic close-ups that just highlights their struggle to perform. In one performance, Anne Hathaway’s efforts in “I Dreamed a Dream” become maudlin.
The backdrop is reduced to school play-like set pieces without any of the story’s social realism. It doesn’t make any impact nor makes any sense. Plus it’s hard enough to pay attention, especially when it’s Crowe’s turn to belt out his lines. Then there are scenes where different actors sing different lines all at the same time.
Close-up monologues and exchanges are churned into repetitive sequences that eventually wear you out. Sasha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter provide refreshing humor, but that too eventually loses its charm.
In the end, you’re better off watching the play on stage as it’s intended, instead of this ill-conceived attempt at a film version that no one asked for.
Les Miserables (2012)
Overlong, overbearing, and painful to watch, this stage-to-screen adaptation of Les Miserables stays true to its title in the worst way.