The best way to offer criticism, I’ve heard, is to sandwich that critique with positives. I realized after I watched the film that I could nit-pick and pull out all the things I didn’t like, but there were so many more things that I did like, I thought should focus on those first.
Positive #1: Anne Hatheway. I wouldn’t be surprised if she scored an academy award for her performance as Fantine. Her voice was great and she captured Fantine’s emotions in probably the best way I’ve ever seen performed. We really feel connected with her and experience her anger and her fear as she slowly spirals downward. All the way until her death, she holds on to those same emotions. It’s not pretty, but it’s very realistic.
Positive #2: The scenery. The countryside and City of Paris are beautiful. I really enjoyed seeing France as we watched the drama unfold. This is something you can’t capture in a stage play.
Positive # 3: The Thénadiers. Hilarious. “Master of the House” cracked me up. Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen perfectly pulled off villain and comic relief.
Positve # 4: Supporting Men. Eddie Redmayne as Marius and Aaron Tveit as Enjolras. Good voices and good performances. Little Gavroche was both funny and adorable. Of Course Colm Wilkinson (very first Jean Valjean ever) as the priest was fantastic.
Positive # 5: Supporting Women. Amanda Seyfried and Samantha Barks. Both had great voices and had great performances.
Postive # 6: The crowd scenes. Very realistic and the sound was great.
Now for the negatives:
Negative #1: I cringed when Hugh Jackman sang “Bring Him Home” I know it’s a tough song, but it’s so important to get it right. Overall, I didn’t like Hugh Jackman’s voice. He’s an extremely talented actor and I love watching him, so much so that I went home with my family after the movie and watched “Australia” because we hadn’t had our Hugh Jackman fix. He’s super hot. Just wish he could melt you with his voice the way he melts you with his looks. It’s just too bad.
Negative #2: Javert. Great acting, not such a great voice. I can’t say I was completely disappointed, but I wasn’t ecstatic either. I guess I find it hard to believe that they couldn’t find anybody else to play his role. Seriously.
In conclusion, I’d give it a 7 out of 10 stars. And I’d watch it again. I’d also recommend it. It’s a fabulous story and remains fabulous with or without perfect performances from every character. I’ve seen worse performances on Broadway. It’s not London Theater, but it’s also not expected to be. Overall, a great film and I’ll probably own it eventually.
Go see it. Just keep your expectations low. Enjoy the story and try not to let the lead men’s voices bother you too much.