Originally Posted by General Kenobi
Finally got around to watching this tonight. Holly crapbags this was a long arse song! I've never seen the broadway show or had any other experience with this story so went in totally blind. My wife said "be prepared, it's a musical"... I'm thinking Grease, yeah, I loved that... or maybe as much music as Sweeney Todd, love that one too. Nope, this was one giant arse song. That said I did enjoy it and found the story, set design, and costumes all fantastic. The music, for a first time listen was all brilliant however I felt the lead characters (Crowe and Jackman) were in way over their heads. I have no basis for comparison but studied music theory, composition, and did my time in a capella choir and what was written for those two leads demanded much a more seasoned and powerful voice to deliver what it felt like it was meant to convey. Hathaway was fantastic, one of very few voices that really sounded it belonged right where it was with that character and emotion. I enjoyed Borat and Mrs. Burton who both were perfectly suited for their rolls. Overall I enjoyed the movie and the music but now that I've had a first experience with Les Mis I'd like to hear what it sounds like when well known actors aren't getting in the way of the music.
Interesting review and I agree with the majority of it. If you can get your hands on either the BD of the 25th Anniversary performance or the DVD (there is no BD, alas) of the 10th Anniversary performance of Les Mis
watch it. Both are filled with top of the line musical theater performers and will give you a baseline for evaluating Hooper's movie version of the show.
I agree that Russell Crowe's small voice worked against his performance as Javert because the part was written for a musical theater performer who could fill the house with the sound of his bel canto
singing. Although Crowe certainly couldn't do that I thought his performances of his songs was wonderful from a dramatic perspective, more so the second time I saw the film. Javert is a tortured and conflicted fellow, so filled with sadness and doubt than in the end he couldn't go on. Crowe made me believe in and sympathize with the guy.
Hugh Jackman's often rough singing surprised me. Jackman is a seasoned musical theater performer, having performed the role of Curly in a West End production of Oklahoma
, which later moved to Broadway. Jackman was nominated for both an Olivier Award and a Tony Award for his performance. Jackman's performances in Les Mis
of One Day More
and Bring Him Home
.though were lyrically beautiful. I suspect the reason he wasn't as good musically in his other numbers was Hooper's insistence on the primacy of the drama. Consistently beautiful singinig under the constraints imposed by Hooper had to have been hard and Jackman couldn't quite handle it in some of his numbers.
In stark contrast to Jackman, Eddie Redmayne, as Marius, was not only spot on dramatically, all of his singing was transcendently beautiful. Redmayne is good enough to carry a Broadway musical and I wish he would do it some time. Redmayne's performance of Marius', Empty Chairs at Empty Tables
was the best I have witnessed from anybody in any venue.
If you are a Sweeney Todd
fan see if you can find the DVD of either the 1982 film of a stage performance of Sweeney
, starring Angela Lansbury and George Hearn, or the 2001 concert performance of Sweeney
, starring Hearn and Patti LuPone. Hearn and Lansbury are the definitive Sweeney and Mrs. Lovett and LuPone isn't chopped liver.