missed the first half of my review? check it out here.
*I adore all the behind-the-scenes and premiere pictures of the Les Mis cast, so instead of stills from the movie, I’ll be interspersing a few of my favorite candid cast shots in this post.
Behold. THE SONGS. I have now seen Les Miserables twice in the theater, so now I have a firm grasp on my opinions on the songs. What I love most about the vocals in this movie is that the actors aren’t all professional singers, so the songs seem very natural and real.
I apologize for the length of this post. But I know all of you true Mizzers out there will read it all.
The Prologue/Look Down – When the camera broke over the surface of the water and that oh-so-familiar booming music began, I was shaking in my seat and wildly grabbing my brother’s arm. The convicts pulling the ship and Javert glaring down at them immediately swept me away in the world of Les Mis. All the vocals were marvelous, although there were more solos than I am used, instead of all the convicts singing together.
The Bishop – COLM! COLM! COLM! Ahem. Sorry for the outburst. I was simply so thrilled to see the one and only Valjean, Colm Wilkinson, in the movie as the Bishop. He was just as amazing as ever. His gentleness and tender words to Valjean were moving, and his voice was so deep and rich. Of all the bishops I’ve seen, Colm is by far my favorite, even though he is Valjean as well. Ha, the irony! This all-important scene was well executed. At first, I was slightly disappointed they didn’t include the famous “took the silver, took my FLIGGGHHHHTT!” line, but then I realized that would have been ridiculous to include since it showed Valjean taking the silver and taking his flight. Overall, this scene was a highlight of the film.
Valjean’s Soliloquy – This was Hugh Jackman’s best song. He poured the emotion into it, and the huge ending was phenomenal. However, I must say when he sang “Take an eye for an eye, turn your heart into stone,” I was thinking, “Really? You couldn’t have put any more effort into that?” Other than that, I was mentally applauding Mr. Jackman for his performance in this song.
I Dreamed A Dream – Oh. My. Word… Ummm, I’m at a loss for words right now. All I can say is that this is THE best “I Dreamed A Dream” I’ve ever heard. Anne Hathaway is stunning, and she completely blew Ruthie Henshall, Lea Salonga, and Betsy Morgan out of the water. The end.
Who Am I – Hugh Jackman did a commendable job in this song, and I loved watching him pack and prepare to go to the court. I thought the big note at the end sounded a bit strained, though, like his voice could break at any moment, but overall, I enjoyed it.
Come To Me/Fantine’s Death – A huge complaint I’ve had with other women who have played Fantine is that when they perform “Come to Me,” they practically belt out the entire song, obviously forgetting that they’re supposed to be, um, DYING. Not so with Anne Hathaway. Her voice was so broken and weak and beautiful, and yeah, she looked like she was on her deathbed. It was so heartbreaking how Valjean cradled Fantine in her last moments, and how overwhelmed with disbelief he was when she died.
The Confrontation – Wow. Okay. This was really truly one of the best songs from the movie. Javert sounded so menacing, the frightening side of Valjean was clearly visible, and the performances of both Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe were excellent. Their fight was amazing. And for some reason, the fact that all of it was in the hospital, just a few feet away from Fantine’s bed, made it that much better. I wanted to break into applause afterward. And I never thought I’d see the day when I would say this, but… this version of “Confrontation” is even better than the 10th anniversary concert. *runs and hides*
Castle on a Cloud – As I’ve said before, three cheers for Isabelle Allen! She was a marvelous Little Cosette. Her voice was so strong and clear for such a young girl. Little Cosette was adorable, and I wanted to hold her for her shabby clothes and starved appearance. And it made me that much more angry at Madame Thenardier when she made her wild entrance.
Suddenly – After “Valjean’s Soliloquy,” this was Hugh Jackman’s next best song. Basically, it was cuteness wrapped up in a song with a huge bow to boot. Hugh was fabulous, and it was so sweet how he was holding Cosette and stroking her hair. I’d never really thought before how very lonely Valjean must have been before Cosette, and then suddenly… he found her. Everyone say “Awwwwww!”
Stars – The first time I watched Les Mis, I thoroughly enjoyed Russell Crowe’s version of this song. The second time I watched it, I was crazy about it. I don’t care what anyone else says, Russell Crowe is a perfect Javert, and “Stars” is his best song, made even better by Russell’s phenomenal acting. You can see both his determination and his hidden vulnerability, that fear of failure, in his face. And that last note… ahhh, it gives me chills. Call me crazy if you like, but I will always love Russell’s Javert and his “Stars.” May Michael, back me up on this!
Look Down – The whole scope of this movie astonishes me. It is so huge, everything is real and right in front of you. The depth of the desperation, the poverty, and the rebellion is plain to see. And this song just broadened the scope even further, with all the people clambering around Enjolras and Marius, and Gavroche and his urchins scouring the streets (oh Gavroche, how I love thee). One thing I loved about this song was there were a couple lines that are normally performed as solos by either Marius or Enjolras, but in the movie, the whole crowd is singing them. The end result? Goosebumps. Imagine an entire crowd of revolutionaries belting out, “Before the barricades ahhhhhhh-RIIIIIIIISE!”
Red and Black – This song… it makes me giddy. And then it makes me sad. All those boys… fighting for what they believed in, fighting for justice. Aaron Tveit did a fabulous beyond fabulous job in this song, as did Eddie Redmayne. Eddie absolutely nailed the smitten schoolboy side of Marius. Really, he’s just adorable to watch. The more I see of him, Aaron Tveit is slowly climbing higher and higher in my estimation. He’s still not Ramin, but I have to admit, he’s a pretty epic Enjolras. But all those revolutionaries… as tragically as their story ends, in this song they just make me smile (especially Grantiere). “They will come when we CAALLLLLLL!”
In My Life/A Heart Full of Love – D’awwww. I think I died of cuteness overload. Marius and Cosette have never been a favorite fictional couple, but Eddie Redmayne and Amanda Seyfried did a fantastic job. And as mad as I get at Marius for overlooking Eponine’s feelings, Eddie was just precious during the first few lines of “In My Life.” I had to giggle when he was spinning around with Eponine. Then when Samantha sang “Every word he says is a dagger in me…”, I was all, “Oh, good feeling’s gone.” She had such a lost and heartbroken look on her face. One thing I was just crazy about in “A Heart Full of Love” was how Eddie/Marius kept stumbling over his words. Perfect lovestruck effect. Amanda’s last note in “A Heart Full of Love” was unfortunately weak, but hey, she hit it. I know I couldn’t hit a note like that.
On My Own – Two words: Uh. Mazing. Samantha Barks did an even better job on this song than she did in the 25th anniversary concert. Wow, that girl has got some vocal power. I love how they filmed her singing “On My Own” in the pouring rain, a small reflection on the upcoming “Little Fall of Rain.”
One Day More – Ahhh! The epicness! I can’t handle it! It’s too much! I was uber pleased with everyone’s performance in this song. So Hugh Jackman was a little weak, but I could almost ignore it in the beautiful scope of the whole song. This was another shake-in-your-seat number. The highlights? Let’s see… Marius running to Cosette’s home and pounding on the door, only to realize he’s too late. Eponine dressing herself as a boy! Loved how they gave us a peek at that.
Russell Crowe Javert in all his commanding glory. The Thenardiers’ bit. Sorry. They’re just hilarious. It’s really hard to go wrong with this song, and the ending… to say I was covered in goosebumps would be an understatement.
Do You Hear the People Sing – SCREAM SCREAM SCREAM. I was not at all prepared for how they would do this song, and it went above and beyond my wildest dreams. Wow. All those people in the crowd joining the revolution, all those people who would not be slaves again! Marius and Enjolras… they are SO COOL. By the end of the song, I wanted to leap out of my theater seat and shout, “Where’s a flag? I WANT TO WAVE ONE, TOO!”
Little Fall of Rain – OH, just kill me now. People, they cut out over half of this song. “Mad” doesn’t even come close to what I was feeling. “Little Fall”? Are you kidding me? That is a monumental song! BUT, I can’t do anything about it, so I might as well stop fretting… said Petie, never. I was quite put out over this cut. However, what precious little of this song was in there was just gorgeous. Samantha was tragically beautiful, and Eddie did a great job portraying Marius finally realizing what a dunce he had been. By the time Marius whispered, “I’m here,” I was sobbing, people. This was the second-hardest time I cried in the whole movie. Oh, and the fact that it actually was raining during the song and a quick shot of Gavroche crying didn’t help matters either.
Drink With Me – This song was considerably shorter than what I am used, but it was still sweet. I loved Gavroche’s little echo, that little boy who had just as much spirit as the grown ones.
Bring Him Home – Ahem. Remember what I said in the first part of my Les Mis review about one song being a total failure? Well, I’m sorry to say that Hugh Jackman totally murdered “Bring Him Home.” I wanted to love it, I truly did, because it is one of the most beautiful and touching songs from the whole play. But I hated it. The first time, I didn’t like it; the second time, it made me cringe and want to plug my ears. There is no softness to the song, he sounds terribly strained and weak, and the high notes are painful to hear. Not even his amazing acting saved this song.
The Final Battle – Hadley Fraser returns! Our beloved Grantaire from the 25th anniversary concert gave a brief cameo as a commanding officer, and of course, he was amazing as always. But oh dear, this is a hard scene to watch. Being the final battle that it is, one by one the revolutionaries are struck down. Gavroche is killed. Marius is wounded and Jean Valjean carries him off to the sewers (which were GHASTLY, by the way). Enjolras and several others are herded into an upstairs room and shot. Pardon me while I go crawl into a hole and bury my face in a red vest. Oh, and before this song began, I was so incredibly happy they included a little bit where Enjolras gives everyone a chance to go home… a small silence… and then Gavroche’s little voice rings out with “Do you hear the people sing, singing the song of angry men…” And everyone joins him. TEAM GAVROCHE.
Javert’s Suicide – One thing I loved about this song was how they gave several contrasting nods to “Stars” (i.e., Javert walking along the edge of the bridge, just like he did on the rooftop in “Stars”). In “Stars,” Javert is confident and determined. In this song, he is falling apart. As before, Russell Crowe did a very commendable job in this song, although I still prefer Philip Quast’s version (can anyone hit that last note like that man? um, no.). I could see the confusion and sense of failure on his face, and his singing sounded very broken and helpless. And I flinched when he hit that retaining wall (or whatever it was) in the water. Sob. My poor Javert. I told a friend the other day that if I had a chance to play anyone I wanted in Les Miserables, I would be Javert. Yup.
Empty Chairs at Empty Tables – Dear Eddie Redmayne, you were probably the best thing that could have happened to the Les Miserables movie. By the time “Empty Chairs” came around, you very nearly made me a Marius fan. The emotion you put into this song, the tears, the look on your face… I loved how by the end, you were almost more angry than sorrowful. Nice touch. You also have nice hair. And nice freckles. Okay, okay, I’ll just say it: you’re just nice-looking, alright? There. I admit it. And thank you for doing Michael Ball proud.
Every Day/The Wedding – I have always thought “Every Day” was one of the cutest little songs I’ve ever heard, and it was beautiful in the movie. And it was in this song where Amanda Seyfried redeemed herself from that weak high note in “A Heart Full of Love.” She and Marius reprise a wee bit of that song in an even higher key, and she hits it strong. Yay for Amanda! The final appearance of the Thenardiers was quite delightful, with them being physically carried out of the wedding and all. AND DID ANYONE ELSE WANT TO APPLAUD WHEN MARIUS PUNCHED OUT THENARDIER? THAT IS WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT.
The Epilogue – Okay. Whew. I’ll attempt to make it through this paragraph without sobbing as I type. The Epilogue…. *Petie gathers her strength, wipes away offending tears, and tries to proceed.* The Epilogue… was EXQUISITE. My faith in Hugh Jackman was restored, Anne Hathaway’s singing was her most gorgeous (“God in heaven, look down on him in mercy…” Wow.), and Amanda Seyfried’s magnificent acting was making me bawl. When she sang “But you will live, Papa, you’re going to live! It’s too soon, too soon to say goodbye,” I was barely holding it together, people. And when Valjean actually died, the despair on her face and how Marius had to hold her was just tragic and beautiful all at the same time. I loved how Fantine was actually holding Valjean’s arm and guiding him along, “leading him to salvation,” as Marius and Cosette were crying on the floor. I must say I was getting outrageously angry that Eponine wasn’t there, singing along with Fantine, but that all changed when I saw the Bishop. Here’s what was running through my mind: “WHERE IS EPONINE? These blasted filmmakers, think they know the best way to do things-AHHHHHHHH! IT’S COLM! HE’S BACK!” To have the Bishop there, singing “And remember the truth that once was spoken: to love another person is to see the face of God” with Valjean and Fantine… really, why hasn’t Cameron Mackintosh thought of that before? BEAUTIFUL.
And during the first few bars of the “Do You Hear the People Sing” reprise, when the camera panned upwards, revealing the streets of Paris once again full of barricades, red flags and revolutionaries, I didn’t even try to stop the tears. One by one, it showed Gavroche… Eponine… Enjolras… Grantaire… all those who loved, fought, dreamt, and died… with Valjean and Fantine overlooking them and singing as well. I could NOT have been more pleased with how they ended this movie. It was as though they were showing the spirit and fire and love and hope of everyone and everything that makes Les Miserables was still alive and ablaze.
“Do you hear the people sing? Lost in the valley of the night. It is the music of a people who are climbing to the light. For the wretched of the earth, there is a flame that never dies. Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise. They will live again in freedom in the garden of the Lord. They will walk behind the ploughshare, they will put away the sword. The chain will be broken and all men will have their reward. Will you join in our crusade, who will be strong and stand with me? Somewhere beyond the barricade is there a world you long to see? Do you hear the people sing, say do you hear the distant drums? It is the future that they bring when tomorrow comes! Will you join in our crusade, who will be strong and stand with me? Somewhere beyond the barricade is there a world you long to see? Do you hear the people sing, say do you hear the distant drums? It is the future that they bring when tomorrow comes… Tomorrow comes!
LONG LIVE LES MIS!