My wife and I invoked our “30 minute rule” when watching this movie. The rule is: if the movie can’t interest either of us in 30 minutes, then we turn it off and quit wasting our time. In the case of Les Misérables, we only needed 19 minutes.
To be fair, I don’t usually enjoy musicals, but I’ve sat through a number of them without walking away. I do enjoy music and I enjoy a good story. The opening number of this film was boring and not well-sung, featuring mostly Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe. Jackman was passable, but Crowe shouldn’t have been in a musical — in much the same way that I shouldn’t be in a musical.
The song itself repeated the same strings of notes over and over, as if the writer only came up with a few measures of music and then copied-and-pasted the rest. The next few songs weren’t impressive either. It’s no wonder that South Park writers Trey Parker and Matt Stone had such an easy time breaking into the world of musicals; if this is considered “really good”.
In a movie where everyone’s supposed to be French, it was odd and ill-fitting that everyone had a British accent (even people who aren’t normally British).
It was distracting to have so many wide-angle closeups on the faces early on. Perhaps the cameraman was trying to emphasize the makeup (which won the movie an Oscar).
The makeup and costumes were indeed fantastic. It’s difficult to imagine a movie where the people’s appearances are more accurately portrayed. And the set designs boggled the mind. I don’t know what 19th Century France looked like, but I imagine it looked similar to the scenes in this movie.
It was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won three (best supporting actress, best makeup and hair styling, and best sound mixing). Les Misérables won four British Academy Awards and three Golden Globes (including Best Picture), not to mention dozens of other national and international film awards.
Personally, I wouldn’t have nominated it for best picture. It (at least its first 20 minutes) doesn’t hold a candle to Argo or Life of Pi, or even Beasts of the Southern Wild. If it gets better after 20 minutes, perhaps there should be an onscreen note at the opening: “Please bear with us for a while; the film is really good later on.”
I was fairly disappointed to have wasted the time of Netflix and the post office to get this movie and send it back.
IMDb: Les Misérables
Wikipedia: Les Misérables
My Rating: 4 of 10
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Run time: 158 minutes (2:38)
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter