Les Miserables: a hit with audiences, a miss with critics

By Kenneth Lamborn, Staff Writer

Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables” is one of the most famous novels of all time. This humanist tragedy has been remade time and time again – on stage, in film, and even rewritten – and the latest remake is a movie directed by Tom Hooper. The cast is full of noteworthy names like Amanda Seyfried, Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, and Helena Bonham Carter. While the movie may be rated as a positive 84 percent by audiences and 70 percent by critics on movie review website RottenTomatoes.com, the bad reviews have been louder than the positive ones. Why?

“At the heart of the ‘Les Mis’ movie was a good idea that just didn’t work out this time,” says Micke LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle. “The idea was that the actors should sing their songs live on camera.” Reviews like this dig hard into Hooper’s choice to have the actors sing their songs live, which yes, can make audiences feel a bit like they’re being screamed at. Other reviews say that the movie simply lacked substance and originality from previous versions and relied too heavily on the star-studded cast to gain success.
Joe Baltlake from The Passionate Moviegoer called Hooper’s “Les Mis” a “Bloated anti-musical,” which is definitely a bit harsh, but not entirely false. A good 85 percent of the film is not spoken, but rather sung. Sitting in a movie theater for three hours watching a movie where famous people can’t resist their urge to sing can be tedious, but this film does have some saving graces.
“I liked the songs and the cast,” says Senior Sara Golestaneh. “But the best part of the film was the cinematography. Just the way it was filmed… They do really cool angles, and the makeup was perfect. It was pretty damn good.”
The bottom line: You can see it, or you can choose not to. Whether you go see it because you’re a fan of other “Les Mis” adaptations, or because (and this is more likely) your favorite actors are in it, you probably won’t regret it. But seeing as how this probably was just a film made to bring in Oscars, don’t go if the above two criteria don’t apply to you. You won’t be blown away by anything but someone’s incredibly loud and overpowered singing.