It's great, of course, The story is wonderful and I love it. Did I cry? No. But I did feel sadness. I wish it were a little more family-friendly because I love the music and message of it. The bit with Fantine is rough. I probably won't take the kids, which is disappointing because I've been playing the music for them since Thanksgiving and I made them watch the 25th Anniversary special. The parts that almost made me cry were the Bishop's candlesticks part (Colm Wilkinson is the Bishop. I DIE!) and Eponine's death. Sad.
Now, for my critique of the singing. This is all just a matter of my taste. I'm not a singer and I'm no great critic of musical theater. The kids are show-stealers (little Cosette, Gavroshe). Usually little singing and dancing kids are so horrible and obnoxious. But these little guys are a treat to watch. Eponine is the stage actress so she's a wonderful—a real pro. Amanda Siegfried is sure pretty with big eyes and a face like frying pan but her voice is flimsy and wiggly. Whatever. Grown up Cosette is boring anyway. Her freckle-faced Marius seems like a great guy. I like him. But he sings like a woman a lot of the time. Too bad stage-performer Enjolras didn't survive the barricade. Am I right, ladies?
Now, I don't want to make too much of this, but I don't totally enjoy Hugh Jackman's voice. He sings well and hits notes but it has a quality to it that I find unappealing—grating, even. That said, I think he makes an excellent Jean Valjean in terms of acting. I love Hugh Jackman. I think he feels the weight of the morality in the story. He is famously faithful to his wife who suffered miscarriage after miscarriage before they adopted their kids. I think he brings his experience as adoptive father (by which I mean, father) to his role with Cosette. He was fantastic. That said, I wouldn't buy the soundtrack to hear any of his songs again.
But what I would buy and what I find myself listening to over and over again, is Russell Crowe as Javert. I think he may technically not be a great singer of musicals—his voice isn't as loud and booming as it should be. But I loved him in this movie. I love his version of Stars. I love how his sweet little baby voice undercuts the blustering certitude of Javert. I like his fat face and beady eyes and I was just so moved by it. Obvs, Javert is one of the most interesting, misguided characters ever. I haven't read the whole book but I know I should and I want to. Still, I relate to Javert's small-minded clinging to his understanding of truth and rules and justice. It is easy to mistake vengeance for a kind of integrity. When you see a better man, when you benefit from the mercy of a better person it makes you feel like crap because you kind of still hate them. I know how it is, Javert. Oh, Javert.
And what can I say about Anne Hathaway that hasn't already been said by everyone, including herself? I heard some people after the movie saying that when Jean Valjean sees her in "Heaven" at the end she should have had her long hair restored. That made me mad. She's so fetching with short hair. It is true that she gives up her pride and vanity in the service of her child (don't we all). But I like to think that by doing so you gain insight and perspective so you care about bigger things—the sacrifice of teeth and hair seems small within the bigger picture. I just hope growing my hair out in Heaven isn't a "thing."
Have you seen it? What did you think?