Les Miserables: Broadway Versus the Big Screen

Les Miserables: Broadway Versus the Big Screen

Revisiting Les Mis

It was 2002, about four or five months after the 9/11 attack on New York City’s World Trade Center. I was sitting on a board for a writing group and we were having a meeting in New York City. The experience was unforgettable for many reasons. First, New York is an experience that could never be described in words or on a movie screen. New York must be experienced in the soul and that can only happen in person. The heartbeat of the city was different than the other time I’d been there. The spirit of the people still strong, but the mood somber. Everyone around the world felt that horrible day, but no one as much as a New Yorker.

The hotel we stayed at was a few blocks from the WTC, which was now called Ground Zero. In fact, my hotel room, more than 20 stories up, had a long crack down the window and if I looked I could almost remember where the twin towers had stood. Now, there was just blue sky in that spot.

It was on this trip, this moment in time that could never be repeated, that I was introduced to my first New York Broadway play. Myself and the others on the board would go see Les Miserables that night.

The Somber Mood of the City

The city was still somber and grieving. It was almost as though a cloak of darkness had been thrown over the collective face of the city as thousands of people grieved from a shocking loss of life and sense of security. Nothing would ever be the same again. The last thing any of us really wanted to do was to go and see a play, but the truth was that this event had been planned many months previously. The tickets had been purchased, a short ride in the subway and we were there.

Falling in Love with Jean Valjean

From the moment the play started, I adored the character Jean Valjean and his internal battle between hate and love, good and evil. The inhumanity of his treatment because he wanted to save his sister’s child, the booming voice… I have always loved musicals, but I now loved Broadway as well.

The theater has a way of getting into the deepest corners of your heart. There are those places we hide from everyone around us — the hurts, the pains, the hidden longings – and the theater has a way of pulling those out and showing us a glimpse of the rest of humanity with the same longings, hurts and desires.

New Movie Les Miserables

When I heard that Les Miserables would be recreated for the big screen, I could hardly wait to see it. Then, I saw Hugh Jackman giving an interview on TV about how they recorded the scenes live instead of in a studio. I knew immediately this would be the closest thing to seeing it on Broadway again. I’ve always liked Hugh Jackman’s acting, so I couldn’t wait to see what he’d bring to the character and the story. Still, how would the big screen possibly do justice to a story seemingly meant for Broadway or written form?

Actors

hugh jackman
photo credit: Barbara.Doduk via photopin cc

The choices in actors for this movie were for the most part excellent.

  • Hugh Jackman: This Australian actor… What can one say? Wow! Looks, great acting ability, and now we know he can sing. I have liked him ever since I saw him years ago in a romantic comedy. Jackman has a way of playing a gritty character that you can still love because you know he is redeemable. He was perfect for this part. He brought a depth of emotion to scenes that not just anyone could have pulled off. Although I love romantic comedies, I have to say that his ability to perform a dramatic part may have been underrated until now. I would even go so far as to say that he could hold his own with any of the greats out there.

  • Ann Hathaway: We all knew Ann┬ácould sing and act from her roles in movies like Ella Enchanted and Becoming Jane. However, what I didn’t realize is how powerful her acting could become through song. As she sings out Fantine’s last moments after falling into prostitution, she actually made me cry. I very rarely cry these days and certainly not in movies, but the raw emotions was so powerful that I felt a strange moisture trailing down my cheeks. “I had a dream my life would be so different from this hell I’m living.” Wow! Bravo, Ann Hathaway. When you can make us forget you are playing a character and believe that you are Fantine in the throes of despair you have accomplished something only a few before you have. It reminded me of Jennifer Hudson’s performance in Dream Girls because of the depth of emotion through song.

  • Karen Siegfried: I only have one word… Why? I am sorry but I really don’t care for this bug-eyed little actress at all. she brings little depth to parts and her voice sounded like a bleating lamb in pain because of too much vibrato. I think her best part ended with the movie Mean Girls. I truly don’t understand why directors keep giving her parts in important movies because this is not her forte. Put her in a romantic comedy, because she does okay in those. Maybe it’s just me but when she comes onto the screen I actually groan in despair. She is that person you meet and instantly take a dislike to. She may be the nicest person that ever lived, I have no way of knowing, but I do not care for her acting at all.
  • Russell Crowe: Crowe’s solo at the end was his best performance as he wrestles with who he has always been and if what he has fought for his entire life in chasing Jean Valjean has been wrong. Ultimately, the character Javert can’t take the inner struggle and jumps from a bridge, killing himself in the process. It is a dramatic moment. Crowe did okay. He is a good actor, but his singing wasn’t great. Still, the raw emotion he showed at times made up for it. He was likely a good choice for this part and the interactions between he and Jackman worked very well, creating an on-screen chemistry between the two rivals that the story calls for.
  • Samantha Barks: I had not heard of Barks before and had to look her up. She is a relative newcomer, with some credits to her name. Wow! Great actress and great voice. Why didn’t we just blonde her up and let her play Cozette? She would have made the movie. However, she did a fantastic job as Eponine. Her longing for Marius was painful to watch and reminded everyone in the theater of that one crush you had that wasn’t returned and how painful that can be. I suspect we’ll see this young lady in many more films and rightfully so. Directors? Are you listening? If you’re thinking about calling in Siegfried, maybe you should give Barks a shot instead. I’m sure they are all taking notes, dear readers. ha ha ha

Rating Les Miserables for the Big Screen

The reaction of the audience in the theater speaks volumes. As the final scene ended and the credits rolled, the entire theater broke out in applause. It was a theatrical experience in a movie theater and one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Movie Review: Abduction with Taylor Lautner

Movie Review: Abduction with Taylor Lautner

A quick run-down and review of the movie “Abduction.” Thoughts on Taylor Lautner’s performance.

Taylor Lautner takes on a new type of role in the movie Abduction. The title is a bit deceiving. I actually rented this movie for my daughter, a fan of Lautner’s. I’m a cheapskate at heart, so I couldn’t bear to not watch it after paying an entire $1.27 at Redbox to rent it. Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised by the acting and the plot. Lautner is actually a veteran actor, who first starred in television shows and eventually landed the role of Sharkboy in the movie Sharkboy and Lava Girl in 2005. He is probably best known for his role as Jacob, the hunky teen werewolf in the Twilight saga.

Plot Summary for Abduction

Lautner has studied martial arts since childhood and gets a chance to show off some of those skills in this action-packed movie. It starts off following Nathan, who has a crush on the girl across the street. Nathan’s relationship with his father seems a bit strange and the viewer tries to figure out what it is that is “off.” No sooner does the viewer start to wonder than Nathan’s world is turned upside down and he is suddenly running for his life and trying to protect that girl across the street as well. The story that is unveiled has many unusual layers. Along the way, he runs into supporting characters played by excellent actors such as Sigourney Weaver.

My Take on This Movie

abductionLautner has grown as an actor over the years. Although he does not yet have the depth of veterans like Mark Wahlberg or powerhouses like Harrison Ford, he does show great promise in the field of action flicks. Tom Cruise, whose crazy antics turned me off ages ago might want to watch out lest he be replaced by the hunky and talented Lautner in the next Mission Impossible. I can certainly see him playing the part of an international spy. Who knows, maybe one day he’ll follow the footsteps of Sean Connery or Pierce Brosnan (fanning myself a bit here at the mention of Pierce Brosnan).

Overall, I loved this movie. It had a plot that moved swiftly. Although I was a bit confused at first, this put me in the character’s shoes as he tried to piece the puzzle together as well. Everything was explained by the end of the movie. I also love a movie with a good ending and this one offered that. However, it also left the door open to future adventures if the movie makers wish.

Is it Worth Renting?

This movie is definitely worth renting. It was a bit violent, with scenes of teen drinking and partying, so might not be appropriate for very young audiences. However, anyone 13 or over would likely enjoy this movie. The girls will enjoy Lautner in this latest role and the romance part of the movie. Young men will appreciate the action scenes, blown-up cars/house and so on. I give it a B+ on my movie grading scale. What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comment area below.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail