This is a curious post to write. I think back to previous posts where I was so excited about the movie, then skeptical about the stars’ singing abilities, then deciding to hope for the best, and finally thinking “It’s can’t be any worse than casting Gerard Butler in Phantom of the Opera.” It turns out it could–and it was. Everything felt stiff and wooden, and the movie itself reminded me of cardboard for some reason. It had none of the special spark that made the 25th anniversary concert so entertaining to watch; it was as if the majority of the cast was merely going through the motions of acting out this movie and not being genuine about any of it. The music didn’t seem to flow, either; it felt as if it was just stuck into the story instead of being part of it. I also didn’t like how they shortened some of the songs.
It wasn’t all bad, though. My inner literary nerd was most gratified to see that the movie included elements from the book that hadn’t made into the stage version because of time/space constraints. Also, I was expecting to loathe Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter as the Thenardiers, but they were perfect. Their singing was great, and you could tell they were having fun with their roles. Getting to see and hear Hadley Fraser–even though it was for far too short a time–was fun; I actually cheered when he came onscreen. And a shout-out is absolutely mandatory for George Blagden’s Grantaire; his role may have been small, but he owned it. My favorite performance, though, came from Samantha Barks. She nailed her role; every note was perfect, and her acting was spot-on, especially with “On My Own”. There wasn’t the least bit of acting then; she was Eponine.
My final conclusion: skip the movie and just watch the 25th anniversary Les Miserables concert. The singing’s much better.