No, I didn't love it. And I didn't really think it was that great of a film, but that doesn't mean it was total smut.
It was really only partial smut. And I'm not sorry.
For starters, answer me this: How was anyone supposed to go see Les Mis and not be automatically a little disappointed that it didn't live up to the hype it got? The Godfather couldn't live up to the hype that followed the premiere of Les Mis. I can barely believe Tom Hooper could put up a decent film given the micro-scrutiny this film was given beginning with just the casting and carrying through the premiere.
To begin, I'm not entirely sure why this is a Tom Hooper project at all. There is absolutely no train of thought that makes sense in my mind where the follow up to The Kings Speech is a movie-musical adaptation of a beloved work about the French Revolution. Unless Tom Hooper is trying to make his name in overly-sentimentalized historical pieces. But at least The Kings Speech was good.
(On a separate note, if I do have one major Kudos for him, it would be the decision not to cast T. Swift. I just know that while she would be "singing" On My Own, all I would really see is "Marius, You Belong With Me!" And then I'd be waiting for her to take her glasses off and Marius realizes that he's really loved her all along, and that Cosette is trilly and mean, and then this wouldn't be Les Mis, it would be the fan-fic of Les Mis written by every 15 year old Gay male theatre fan living in Iowa.)
If my boyfriend has one Kudos for Tom Hooper, it's that he appreciated the un-proportionate amount of cleavage to dresses in the film.
I will start with what I did actually enjoy about this film. 1. Anne Hathaway. Her acting is superb, I genuinely feel sorry for her (which is a pretty huge feet by any standards, let alone that she's sort of America's Sweetheart), and despite that I'm sure Tom Hooper told her to cry during most of her singing, she belts out some notes like a champ. She really could have only been better if Tom Hooper had just let her sing like she really can sing, or if he hadn't directed this movie at all.
That critique goes for Hugh Jackman as well. His singing is less than stellar in Les Mis, and Why? He has a fantastic voice. Don't believe me? Here's his opening in the 1994 version of Oklahoma.
Hugh Jackman in Oklahoma
He can really sing. And yet, he chose to go with some weird sprecht-singing hybrid that totally defeats the purpose of his casting. It's not that he's bad in it, I just don't understand his choices. Because they were bad.
And yes I know he just won a Golden Globe for this, but my money is still on DDL for the Oscar. Even if I am the only person who thought it was weird that Ireland's favorite son is playing America's favorite President, he has the statuette wrapped up like Mary Todd in all of her costumes. See Also: Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher last year.
And while I'm on the subject, this was the least French version of the French Revolution I have ever seen, and I can't understand why I'm the only person who is conceivably bothered by this. For starters, much of this is filmed at the University of Greenwich, which was designed by Christopher Wren, AKA England's favorite architect, and it was distracting and weird when at the very end of the film at this barracade of all dead people, the background is iconic English architecture.
Maybe I only noticed the specific location because I've been there, but I'm not really sure how you couldn't be a little confused. Let me explain it to you.
University Of Greenwich:
You are wrong. Given that people are speaking the English language, I find their American accent mildly passable, since they are singing most of the time anyway, and it becomes indiscernible. But Gavroche's accent is out of place (and Helena Bonham Carter's too), and I'm sure was included because it makes him cute and adorable, crushing the audience's soul even further when he gets repeatedly shot and dies because he's being an idiot and walking in front of a platoon of soldiers.
This production of Les Mis was more like Oliver! than a production of Les Mis.
It got to the point where I was just waiting for him to help Eponine and her slum parents pick the pockets of the wealthy rich-folk, and then head back into their sewer home after singing a rousing chorus of "Consider Yourself." Gee, I hope the Artful Gavroche helps Marius get adopted by a wealthy Mr. Brownlow, I mean Jean Valjean.
This points to a further trend that I'm seeing in movies today, that American film audiences hear a British accent and they understand it as foreign/european. For those of you who know anything about the 2012 film version of Anna Karenina that just came out, EVERYONE in that movie speaks in British RP ("received pronunciation" AKA like Julie Andrews sounds) and no one seems bothered at all that the entire film is set in Russia and everyone in it is Russian.
I don't expect anything to come from this revelation. We all already know that American film audiences are remarkably stupid. But maybe if we all recognized the difference between the accents of France/Russia/England/America, we could make interesting, more culturally realistic film.
This is the problem with people like Tom Hooper and Joe Wright. It's all fine and dandy for them to over-sentimentalize their own culture and history. They want to have their Kings Speech and eat it with a side of Pride and Prejudice. And nobody blinks an eye when the scores of those films are composed of pieces of classical German music, because they feel like they are entitled to whatever cultural European capital they want to use in representing the English because, well, the English are the only "real" culture in Europe right? Apprantely for American audiences, this is true.
But when they feel like this right as Englishmen gives them the right to impose their cultural capital on others, I take offense, because first of all, who gives them the right to make films version of the works of Tolstoy and Victor Hugo? How do you think Joe Wright would feel is Guillermo Del Toro decided his next film was an adaptation of Jane Austen? Or for that matter, how does any English-person feel when American's adapt Shakespeare?
(On a side note, if Michael Haneke is reading this, Call Me! I have ideas!)
Disclaimer: I do no personally know Tom Hooper or Joe Wright, so anything I say they are thinking/feeling is a representation of what I'm sure they actually are.
Don't go see Les Mis. It's about 45 minutes too long and the best character/singer dies after the first 20 minutes anyway. I recommend just watching this clip 10 times in a row instead.
Les Mis < Oscars Opening 2009