Jan 15, 2013

Les Miserables

This is what happened to my soul in the two hours and thirty eight minutes that I endured, like a  prisoner in Guantanamo, sitting in a theater with nothing but darkness coming from the screen. My soul ran for its life and hid in a remote, safe place where the asphyxiating ugliness of this movie could not strangle it.
I sat there trying to shield myself from the ineptitude, the dreariness, the forced bathos, the insincerity, the repetitiveness; from the costly futility of the entire doomed enterprise. Some doomed enterprises, like Cloud Atlas, have a shred of vitality fanned by their own belief in their ridiculous convictions. You can tell everybody involved knows it's a major dud, but they soldier on. This movie doesn't even have that. It is exhausted and exhausting and it has the energy of a funeral procession for someone deeply unloved. People in it behave like they are going to the gallows, everything is a last gasp. Hence all that crying, I assume. There is no joy, no fun and no life in it.
I could feel nothing but dread (and lethal boredom). Dread at the thought of Hugh Jackman opening his mouth to sing in a register that threatened to break his vocal chords, and my ears. Ordinarily, Jackman is a charming, talented performer, but this movie has the dubious distinction of making you loathe him. It also has the distinction of making you never want to read Victor Hugo's original novel. It is unfathomable to see this film and infer that the source material is any good. This is how criminally bad this movie is. The writers-composers took what is known to be a good story, and turned it into dreck. Tom Hooper's bizarre clumsiness as a director delivers the coup de grace. It murders the story.
I felt dread and pity at the sight of Russell Crowe, looking like he'd rather be waterboarded with piss, than stand once more in that stupid parapet with his tiny little nothing of a voice, and have to sing those dreadful songs. Russell Crowe singing is like "Garbo Talks!"; not a good idea. Whatever macho mystique the man had has been vanquished by his participation in this movie. If I were him, I'd be throwing phones at the producers.
I felt dread at the effluvia of snot and tears coming of Anne Hathaway's face as she sang, or rather as she heaved, with an unseemly, vulgar, and totally unprofessional lack of control, through that fucking song from hell (they are all the same, and they are all infernal).
When the miraculous face of Eddie Redmayne appeared, I almost fainted with relief. Soon he was crying rivers too, though he can sing. Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter, the official Victorian wench of filmdom, were charged with bringing enforced jollity, and they tried, but even their efforts seemed leaden.
Les Miserables is a horror movie from which there is no escape. It is like the cult hit The Room, but with money and stars. That is, it is the un-cinema; everything that a movie should not be. It seems to have been made by someone who doesn't know how to frame a shot, how to light a scene, how to make people move in space; let alone choose people who can sing. For some amateurish reason, Tom Hooper, a man who apparently is deaf and blind, decided to frame all the characters in extreme close up. This is a movie with no backdrops. You can't see anything beyond anyone's nostrils. Paris looks like a mound of gray turds.
The music is like an interminable barn dance but in a heroic key. Yet it has the gall to treat itself like an opera, so instead of talking between "songs", there is recitative. This is the one instance in which I was praying for the action scenes to happen, for bayonets to pierce bodies and cannons to explode, so that people would stop singing, and put us, Les Miserables in the audience, out of our misery.

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