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LES MISERABLES 2012 Movie Reviews: Maximalist Approach to Killer Pipes

Anne Hathaway Les Miserables 2012 movieLes Misérables 2012 movie reviews: a mixed bag

The Les Misérables reviews are beginning to pour in. The trailers look great, but some reviewers found the whole film quite a bit less so. Particularly surprising was Todd McCarthy's dismissive Les Misérables review in The Hollywood Reporter, as McCarthy has often effusively praised big Hollywood productions that perhaps merited a tad (or a lot) less effusiveness. (Image: Les Misérables 2012 movie stars Anne Hathaway as Fantine.)

“A gallery of stellar performers wages a Sisyphean battle against musical diarrhea and a laboriously repetitive visual approach in the big screen version of the stage sensation Les Misérables,” writes McCarthy, adding that “… director Tom Hooper has turned the theatrical extravaganza into something that is far less about the rigors of existence in early 19th century France than it is about actors emoting mightily and singing their guts out. As the enduring success of this property has shown, there are large, emotionally susceptible segments of the population ready to swallow this sort of thing, but that doesn't mean it's good.”

Tom Hooper: 'Maximalist approach'

Curiously, whereas McCarthy bitterly complains about the director's camera set ups, Variety's Justin Chang felt that “in visual terms, Hooper adopts a maximalist approach, attacking the material with a vigor and dynamism that suggest his Oscar-winning direction on The King's Speech was just a warm-up. At every turn, one senses the filmmaker trying to honor the material and also transcend it, to deliver the most vibrant, atmospheric, physically imposing and emotionally shattering reading of the show imaginable.”

Yet, “for all its expected highs, the adaptation has been managed with more gusto than grace; at the end of the day, this impassioned epic too often topples beneath the weight of its own grandiosity.”

Anne Hathaway: 'Frightened to refuse [her] an award'

Regarding Anne Hathaway's performance as Fantine – remember, the singing in Les Misérables was recorded live – The Guardian's Catherine Shoard writes: “She turns ['I Dreamed a Dream'] into a symphony of phlegmy upset, climaxing in a panic attack of bloke woe ('He took my childhood in his stride / But he was gone when autumn came'). It's a performance of monumental welly, one you'd be too plain frightened to refuse an award.” And here's wondering if Anne Hathaway's all-but-inevitable Best Supporting Actress Oscar, SAG Award, and Golden Globe will be the result not of admiration, but sheer terror.

Shoard sums up her Les Misérables review with the following: “But the experience of actually sitting through Les Mis, all 160 minutes of it, can feel less like an awards bash than an epic wake, at which the band is always playing and the women are forever wailing. By the end, you feel like a piñata on the dancefloor: empty, in bits, the victim of prolonged assault by killer pipes.”

That's something to look forward to on Christmas Day in a handful of countries, including the United States and Canada. Audiences in most other major markets will have to wait for Les Misérables' killer-pipe assault in January / February 2013.

Les Misérables, I should add, was totally bypassed by the 2012 New York Film Critics Circle Awards, though Anne Hathaway was a top contender for Best Supporting Actress. (The eventual winner was Sally Field for Lincoln.) The 2012 National Board of Review listed Tom Hooper's musical as one of the year's Top Ten Films, and gave a citation to the Les Misérables ensemble as the best of the year.

Les Misérables 2012 movie cast

Based Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boublil, and Jean-Marc Natel's stage musical adaptation of Victor Hugo's 1862 novel, Les Misérables was written for the screen by William Nicholson. The massive cast includes Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean, Russell Crowe as Inspector Javert, Anne Hathaway as Fantine, Amanda Seyfried as Cosette, Eddie Redmayne as Marius, Sacha Baron Cohen as M. Thenardier, Helena Bonham Carter as Madame Thenardier, Aaron Tveit as Enjolras, and Samantha Barks as Eponine.

Les Misérables 2012 movie stars Anne Hathaway as Fantine photo: Universal Pictures.

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2 Comments to LES MISERABLES 2012 Movie Reviews: Maximalist Approach to Killer Pipes

  1. Robert Nicholson

    The 10th Anniversary concert set the bar very high. I don't think this is going to come near that given the singing talent of the actors. If it doesn't have Colm Wilkinson, Philip Quast, Ruth Henshall, Lea Salonga, Michael Ball it's not going to be worth my time.

    They should have done away with the musical and tried to dramatize the movie.

  2. Anne

    It's nice to know that critics only have their opinions to share & not everyone agrees with their negative or “mixed” reviews. Maybe it's good, for a change, to have a different approach, like a “live musical recording,” to Victor Hugo's story. Don't get me wrong, I love the quality of the singers voices in the original musicals but I want to hear & see something different. The musical was based off of Victor Hugo's book, which is a fact, not an opinion. And there was nothing grandeur about French society during the 1800-1850's. So the actors in this movie may not posses the “perfect” talent for singing but can portray just how awful it was to live & work in France during this time. Maybe Hooper wanted you to feel as the character's did from Hugo's book…you know, like they were “victims of killer pipe assaults.” Also, do you think you could write your own opinion (after actually reading Victor Hugo's book, watching any of the numerous musicals for Les Miserables & watching the 2012 Film) instead of telling us what Catherine Shoard, Todd McCarthy, & Justin Chang thought?