I have twice seen Les Mis live on stage as a musical: Once in Toronto; once in Vancouver. I have always loved the story, originally written by Victor Hugo in the early 1860s, and I adore the music that it was set to for the stage in the mid 1980s. After my first time seeing it on stage, I was so in love with the music that I immediately went and purchased the two-volume sound track of CDs and listened to it dozens (maybe hundreds?) of times. Just listening to that music can bring tears to my eyes.
I was reluctant to see the new movie based on the musical, mostly because I thought it would be a let down. Early critics reviewed it poorly and I simply could not imagine actors like Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway (to name a few) singing credibly. But a couple of people told me last week that they had really enjoyed it and so I reconsidered.
Well, I went to see it last night. It was fabulous. Wonderful. It gets a 10 out of 10 for me, a rating I rarely bestow on books or movies. Although Russell Crowe's voice was admittedly not my favourite, even he did a very credible job of singing and was well suited to the role. But the other actors wowed me with their voices. I understand that the actors sang their parts live (ie. no lip syncing/taping over) and that just added to the believability of it all. I also understand that Hugh Jackman, perhaps best known in North America for action/superhero roles such as Wolverine, actually began his acting career in musical theatre in Australia. Who knew??! His voice was terrific - really, really terrific - and I was shocked also by how lovely Anne Hathaway's voice was. Wow on both counts. And perhaps the voice that most wowed me was that of Amanda Seyfried - she has a clear, lilting soprano voice that blew me away. I was also very moved by how much emotion they brought to their parts - there are a few songs sung by Hathaway and Jackman that were just stunning when combined with the depth of feeling that they brought to the scene, and there were some duets/quartets/group performances that sent shivers down my spine and brought tears to my eyes.
At any rate, I loved it and the music continues to haunt my heart hours later. I think I'll have to pull those old CDs out and give then a re-listen...maybe another hundred times!
If you're into musicals at all (or just a really great story), I would encourage you to go see this movie.
If you have already seen this movie, what did you think?