So it’s the credits of Les Miz and I’m trying to dry my face off discreetly with my scarf, and two women in front of me are chatting cheerfully. I decide that they are Martians. Then three women are talking about escaping their kids and going to Les Miz. They call it La Miz and chatter pleasantly together. I decide that they, too, are Martians. Then I remember that not every sobs all the way through Les Miz. Then I realize that it is a book, and then a play, and now a movie both thematically, dramatically, and musically designed to evoke sobbing; thus, the name, and that if you’re neither sobbing nor rolling your eyes on the way out, then there’s something wrong with you, Martian or otherwise. You have to react somehow.
First act: brilliant. I would never have guessed 24601 as Hugh Jackman, and kept getting lost in it. Yes, there were some large faces, but I agreed with the choice there: you’re supposed to cry. There is just noplace to look that isn’t someone’s tragic facial expression. Just TRY to run from that emotion. I was really impressed that so many of the actors gave them over to hideousness, too. That sobbing was not pretty.
Second act: very nearly dull. I think that’s by purpose, that if you sustained the intensity of Act I throughout the show, that people would off themselves, just walk into the bathroom and slit their wrists. Grownup Cosette never does anything but put me to sleep, and Amanda Seyfried was no exception here, although she was less annoying than most. Screw her; let’s keep Eponine next time instead. Also, I kept staring at Marius, going, “That kid just looks odd,” but I liked him here. Another non-pretty, almost infinitely stretchable face. I love watching people with large mouths sing.
Third act: The horrible uselessness of it all crashed in on me here, to the point where it kicked me out several times. And seeing the palace where Marius lived didn’t help at all: that’s right, not-so-pretty boy! Run home to Gramps! Probably also intentional. Also wept to wretched excess here.
Thenardiers: boring?!? How do you do “boring” and “Thenardiers”? Whoever made the call to tone them down will be drug out to the wall when the revolution comes. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the actors making that call. Or the costume designers. I think that was my only real issue.
Some have called out Russel Crowe for less-than-stellar singing (especially compared to Hugh Jackman, who was not flawless but in an enjoyable way); however, whether intentional or not, I thought he was charming, the best Javert that I’ve seen – he came across as a kid in a man’s clothes, with an almost innocent voice. I normally eyeroll my way through Javert: good Lord, man, just calm down for two seconds! But here I just kept thinking, “He really does believe in all that crap.” A boy’s spirit. Law! Honor! Someday I will grow up to be a man of Justice! And the scene on top of the tower where he’s walking the edge of the balcony…it was a) a nice setup, and b) reminiscent of Batman, which made some nice echoes.
Overall, nicely done, easy on the ears, enjoyable, and about as sad as I can stand to watch more than once.