Sunday, 3 November 2013

Les Misérables

This is often called the Glums by those that appear in this on the stage, it’s known by a whole load of other names by those who see it. It was a film that I came to with some trepidation I must admit. I have never been a fan of modern musicals, by which I mean ones written since the 1970s. So I was braced for not a great evening and well it may be damning with faint praise but it was better than I expected. It wasn’t a massive calamitous disaster, just not that great.

I did not expect the film to be 90% singing, had I been living in a cave? Anyway I found a lot of the singing, the music and the lyrics to be awful. I found myself waiting for the songs to end and for the story to progress, too much introspection. There were high points; I Dreamed A Dream and the songs about the barricades were stirring. Hugh Jackman did well carrying the film and Anne Hathaway did okay as well.

The production design was fantastic, all the sets inside and out of Paris and Montreuil had been lovingly built, as well as the ship being pulled in by the convicts at the beginning. I found that the story was quite saggy throughout and wasn’t helped by the continual differing version of the same song over and over again. Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter annoyed me intensely; I never understood why he sang in a French accent when every one else sang in an English one, even Russell Crowe (ish).

I was expecting truly dreadful, it wasn’t as quite as bad as that.


I had been warned that the first ten minutes of this film would be harrowing and heart wrenching. They were not wrong on Twitter, we are presented with the story of Carl and Ellie as they fall in love and plan for their adventure to Paradise Falls in South America. This is inspired by the derring dos of the pilot of an airship that they see in a newsreel. We see them grow older and we see time take its toll, Carl makes a promise to Ellie that they will make it there.

The story then is about the fulfilment of this promise. At the age of 78 Carl attaches thousands of helium balloons making the house float. He steers to house south on the way to Paradise Falls. He is aided somewhat in this by Russell, a scout who needs his helping the elderly badge so that he can become a senior scout.

The film and the story are pretty well executed as most Pixar films are. I did find that some of the lessons learnt by the characters may have been similar to those in Toy Story. They learnt how to adapt to change and how these changes necessitate a change in perspective. There are also the themes of ageing and finding purpose in life on evidence here as well.

The film drops in a few references to Star Wars, the Wizard of Oz and King Kong here and there. It features a pack of talking dogs and the vocal talents of Ed Asner and Christopher Plummer.

It all ends up being about how friends are perennially more important than things and possessions, so true.