We Need To Talk About Les Mis Part II: I Heard The People Sing, And It Was Glorious!

Film critics have been mixed on Les Miserables, with some considering it overwrought or over cinematized or something else involving big technical words I don’t really know, and others appreciating it for all of its messy melodrama. But we've yet to read the one criticism that really matters: mine. Does this girl look like she gives a hoot about directorial choices or film stylings? IMG_20121225_125129

No, no she does not. (She also doesn’t look like she’s washed her hair or effectively removed last night’s eye makeup. What a babe.)

I’m not a film critic or a film buff by any stretch of the imagination, my two favorite films are Mean Girls and A Muppets Christmas Carol, so I don’t judge by any critical standards, but always by how a movie makes me feel when it is over. And Les Mis made me feel like this:


Which is to say: I loved it. I started crying about 12 minutes in, during “Valjean’s Soliloquy” (“He told me that I had a soul. How did he know?”) and pretty much didn’t stop until the film was over. The big group numbers were visually and musically stunning, especially "Look Down" and "Do You Hear the People Sing," which weave all over Paris, and the real stunner songs, "I Dreamed a Dream," "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables," "On My Own" straight delivered. Even my enemy Anne melted my icy heart. Homegirl can sing. Someone who did not melt my icy heart was Russell Crowe. He’s getting some nice reviews from critics about his performance but I thought his singing voice lacked the gravitas I expect from my beloved Javert and he just didn’t bring the nuance of that character. But I’m a tough judge. The movie is filmed as a series of set pieces, I would imagine as an homage to the stage version, if I were the type of person to use the word “homage,” so it never really looked like real France - the Bishop’s hilltop monastery looked a lot like Middle Earth and I am pretty sure they filmed all of the barricade/Paris revolution scenes on the Diagon Alley set from the Harry Potter films, but I was really too busy paying attention to the singing and the acting and the EMOTING and the drama and the sexy, sexy schoolboys in their vests to really give much thought to what was going on around them.

SO! Now if you haven’t seen the film, rush off to your local movie theater immediately! I really don’t understand what you’re waiting for. Then come back here and dish with me - I’d truly love to hear what everyone else thinks!

If you HAVE already seen the film, please stick around, I have a few detailed, spoilery notes below. …...

Ok, first things first, how hot was Enjolras? My love for that character is well documented, but I was unfamiliar with the actor playing him. Apparently he’s a big theater heartthrob. One of my crazy cousins is a huge Broadway fan and told me at family Christmas she’d “like to be a cougar for Aaron Tveit” so I was well prepared to be throwing my undies at the movie screen and hoo boy, he did not disappoint. So passionate, so principled, such hair!


Wouldn’t our children just have the wildest curly mops?

All of the revolutionaries in this film were just too good looking.I love them all. I also love the slight homoerotic undercurrent that runs through all of the revolutionary scenes. The meaningful glances exchanged! Rawr. Gay or straight, I’m in the throes of developing a serious vest fetish.

normal_LESMISSTILL-008Oh yum.

And speaking of yum, Buzzfeed ran this great article last week wherein they praised Russell Crowe’s Val Jean as a truly hot JVJ, a VILF: a ValJean I’d LIke to Fuck. They were right.Hugh is almost almost distractingly good looking. I actually feel like this was a whole movie of fellas I’d like to F, with the exception of dumb Javert, which is so disappointing, considering my usual strange obsession with him. Though I can’t imagine Javert would be a very talented lover. He’d probably be very gruff and quick and then cry afterwards. Actually, if you really consider it, I'd bet all of the fellas in this film are a little too much up in their own business to be very good in bed. Like, hot as he is, you just know Enjolras would yell “Viva le France!” as he finished.

The amount of time I’ve spent thinking about this is slightly disconcerting.

Before we wrap up our talk of Hot Guyz, let’s really quickly discuss Eddie Redmayne. He was SO GOOD! I usually think Marius is such a wimpy doofus, but Ol Freckleface played him so well and he was actually pretty bad ass in the end when he punched Thernardier at the wedding. I can see why Cosette was so smitten with him at first sight. That said, doesn’t he have sort of a funny shaped head?  I think he looks a bit like a thumb puppet. Like, his head is kind of the same size as his neck? He's a really hot thumb puppet but still:

Untitled presentation

Do you see it? Just a bit! Ohhhhhhhhhh but those big fat tears running down that thumb face while he sang Empty Chairs had me losing my shit. “Oh my friends, my friends!” Weeping.

Well, by that point in the film I’d been crying for about 2.5 hours - I think I reached the peak of my weeping during the fall of the barricade. I GASPED out loud when they shot Gavroche - I knew it was coming but it was so graphic (and he was so cute!!) and then when Javert pinned his war medal on dead Gavroche’s blood stained shirt I emitted such a loud, heaving sob that my mom told me to quiet down. Um, sorry Penn Cinemas, Lancaster, PA. I can’t control myself.

And Oh! Speaking of gasping! How loud did you shriek when you spotted Colm Wilkinson!?! You know you’re a true LM nerd when you immediately recognize the bishop as the legendary CW, the original ValJean. My siblings and I have spent the last week singing all of his songs in our best Colm Wilkonsony, Slightly Scottishy accents,so we mostly end up sounding like Darrell Hammond as Sean Connery on Saturday Night Live. “Your Motha ish 24601, Trebek!”

Anyway, what was I saying? Oh yes, Colm. I nearly died right there in my seat when Colm as the Bishop started singing, imagining him handing the torch over to Hugh Jackman and was a full on blubbering mess by the end, when ValJean walked off to heaven to the tune of Do You Hear the People Sing and there was Colm in the doorway, lit up by the light of a thousand candles, looking like Christ himself. Was it heavy handed and melodramatic and ridiculous? DUH. But isn’t that why we love Les Mis so much?

Another thing I loved at the finale was how they just had Fantine come sing to ValJean on his deathbed, well, death rocking chair, instead of having Eponine tag along. I never understood why she was there. She didn’t even know Jean. I was so thrilled to see her at the end, atop the barricade surrounded by all of the students who were now literally dead sexy.

Ba dum bum!

Ok, quickly let’s talk favorite/least favorites: I thought Hugh was an amazing ValJean. He couldn’t quite hit the notes on some of the bigger songs,“Bring Him Home” in particular had me cringing just a bit, but he acted the shit out of that part and perfectly portrayed the conflicted soul that is Val Jean. He has such soulful eyes, that one. VILF! And “Dreamed a Dream,” I can’t fight it, was incredible. A hat tip to you, bald Anne. And Samantha Barks was goooooood as Eponine, which was expected, having played the part before, though everyone knows that Joey Potter sings the ultimate “On My Own.” Also, while I’m thinking of it, she has kind of a weird body shape. I shouldn’t say that about another woman. I’ll rephrase - she has a teensy, tinsy waist, like, Disney heroine tiny, and really lovely shoulders, but however they had her costumed made her look really out of proportion with her waist the size of her arms. She’s gorgeous and I’ve seen her in non urchin apparel, so I know she has a rocking bod, but whatever they were doing with the costuming was weirddddd. But “Little Fall of Rain!” Swoon/weep/swoon. Oh, Ponine, HJNTITY: He’s Just Not That Into You.

Ah, I keep getting distracted and just writing down every song from the film. So here goes, a quick Best Worst:

Best Actor: Anne Hathaway as Fantine. YES I SAID IT.

Worst Actor: Do I even have to spell this out? Russell Crowe. Blech.

Best Song -Solo: “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables.” I loved this version!

Worst Song - Solo: Again, obvi, “Stars.” My favorite song from the musical as growled by a lackluster Russell Crowe standing in front of a cheesy Paris landscape. Just jump already, you’re harshing my mellow!

Best Song - Group: “Do You Hear the People Sing” Big booming vocals + hot studs waving French flags = slam dunk.

Worst Song - Group: Just because I have to pick one, I’ll go with “Master of the House.” Just eh. But still good! I’m only picking because I have to. I make the blog rules, I must stick by them.

Best Face: Amanda Seyfried. And a good voice, too! Cosette is boring, but she sure is pretty.

Best Hair: Duh! Enjolras!

Best Dressed: Madame Thenardier. Love me some HBC!

Worst Hair: Fantine’s Prostitute Colleagues. I know times are tough, but get some hair brushes, gals. Even Fantine’s disaster of a crop is better than some of these ladies do’s.

Most Glorious Death: Enjolras, upside down out the window, clutching the red flag. Viva le France - get in my pants!

Least Glorious Death: Javert. And not just because his Suicide song was lackluster - because the horrific “thud” as his body hit the river was one of the more sickening sounds I’ve heard this year.

Best Overall: The whole movie, minus Javert.

Worst Overall: JAVERT! My heart is stone and did NOT tremble for your performance. Woof.

What did you think? Did you love it? Hate it? What had you in tears? Which schoolboy had the best vest? Tell me EVERYTHING!

xo Liz

We Need To Talk About Les Mis

Guys, we need to talk about something super important. No, not Palestine, but Congrats, Palestinians! I mean Les Mis. We’re under a month (Twenty Two Days More!) until the Big Hollywood Version of the World’s Greatest Musical hits theaters and I have SO many thoughts! This is going to get deeply spoilery, so if you are unfamiliar with this masterpiece than for Valjean's sake, stop reading and familiarize yourself! What have you been doing with your life?? Ok, now that those clowns are gone, let’s talk. I LOVE Les Mis. I swore I’d seen it on the stage six times but can only think of five. It’d be just like me to round up for dramatic effect. I saw it once as a kid with my family, with my 9th Grade English class after reading the (significantly less exciting) novel (I also made a gigantic barricade replica using Playmobile pieces for said class instead of doing a normal book report), once in Hershey with my dad, once on the London Stage where it originated (!) and once in Baltimore in college with this Freshman Year orientation program called Best of Baltimore, which my friends and I used to shorten it to Bob and write “Out with Bob!” on our AOL Instant Messenger Away Messages so that everyone would think we were out on dates. No one bought it, surprisingly.

This Les Mis love was instilled in me from an early age. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear my mother played it for me in utero. When we were really young we used to have a VHS Tape of that epic 10th Anniversary telethon special, plus the soundtrack (the one I just bought!) and we’d play it over and over and sing along. My sister and I would dress up and fight over who got to play the part of young Cosette. I knew how to play Castle on a Cloud on the piano at one point. Our favorite part was Javert’s Suicide, we asked our parents, who’d seen the full stage production at this point, how they had a river on stage for Javert to jump in to and they told us how they used lights to give the illusion of water. So every time that song came around we’d get out flashlights and wave them around on the wood floor in the family room, because, you know, it’s totally normal for young children to play-act musical suicides in their spare time (WTF, parents?) and just as he’d come to his climax and leap off the bridge, my little sister would yell “BYE BYE, JAVERT!” A few weeks or months later they finally took us to see the show when it toured to Hershey and sho’ nuff, the actor playing Javert gives his rousing final performance - the bridge lifts, the lights make the river wild, he belts “No way to go onnnnn....” and he leaps of...and out in the audience, young Maggie, probably five at the time (seriously, parents, WTF?) yells out: “BYE BYE, JAVERT!!”  Adorable. She did not get thrown out of the theater, surprisingly, but DID get forcefully removed from a performance of Phantom of the Opera at the National Theatre in DC a few months later. God bless our parents trying so hard to instill some culture in their ridiculous children.

So I think I’ve made it clear that Les Mis means something to me. Deeply and passionately. I have many, many, MANY thoughts about this upcoming Hollywood Edition. If I dedicated just 7% of the time I spend worrying about the Les Mis movie to my job I could be the mothaflippin CEO. I need more hobbies.

So here we go: some very loosely connected, only mildly edited, totally rambling thoughts leading up to the 12/25/12 Premiere of Les Mis: The Movie:The Masterpiece:OMFG:

1.) Ok, the first thing to consider when thinking about Les Mis is, this story is ridiculous. Like, have you ever taken a step back to consider this plot? So Jean Valjean is basically this great guy, he steals some bread, goes to jail and becomes enemies with his jail guard Javert. He gets out, steals some silver, blah blah blah whatever, becomes the mayor of some French town and WHO should have moved to said town but his old frenemy Javert! And Javert is now like, police chief or something and is STILL freaking obsessed with hunting down Valjean, who he views as basically the Charles Manson of Bread Thievery and he thinks he’s finally going to get him but wait! Valjean, who in addition to being the mayor is also some kind of factory manager, comes across some former employee of his, Fantine, who he fired and is now a dying prostitute and he feels so guilty for her pathetic life that he agrees to adopt her secret child who is living with some random insane innkeepers somewhere so before Javert can go arrest him he runs off to the creepy inn to rescue this child and then fast forward 10 years, Valjean’s in Paris now and guess who else lives there: Javert AND the crazy innkeepers! It’s like Saved by the Bell when everyone goes to the same college. So Fantine’s secret child Cosette is now a teenager and is totally DTF and she’s walking in the street one day and sees this guy Marius and they barely lock eyes and are suddenly In Love, all caps, and they’re drawing EVERYONE into their stupid Romeo & Juliet story - Marius is in some student uprising war and basically gets his best friend Eponine (who has the total hots for him) murdered by the opposition because he’s making her run letters back to his true love Cosette instead of just nutting up and talking to her himself (I hate Marius) and meanwhile, Cosette’s adoptive dad, Valjean has joined the student uprising so he can spy on his daughter’s boyfriend, which, like, have him over for a pot roast or something, isn’t this a bit much? And THEN Javert shows up and tries to throw Valjean in jail AGAIN even though it’s been about 45 years and 4 cities since he arrested him for Bread Thievery in the first place but Valejan is super nice to him, which Javert just can not handle, so he throws himself off a bridge which, again, is a little much. I think Javert might need to get laid. And I know just the gal to do it! (It’s me, in case I didn’t make that clear.) And then blah blah revolution a lot of people die except Marius because Valjean saves him because True Love and while he’s dragging him away from the barricades who should they encounter but the Crazy Innkeepers! Who OF COURSE are just hanging around. I love this story, I do, I do! But I think all of the characters are insane. They bring their problems on themselves. If they all just minded their own beeswax instead of getting all involved in everyone else’s lives, NONE of this would have happened! Javert would still be alive, Valjean would be off mayoring somewhere, Cosette would probably not have been rescued and would have died a sad prostitute like her mother but whatever, thems the breaks, kid. Everyone mind ya business.

Except don’t, because your dumb antics make for one perfect musical.

2) Can we discuss Anne Hathaway for a quick sec? I haaaaaate her! Though I obviously love Princess Diaries and Devil Wears Prada I find Annie herself to be just so...ughh. So much. I know I’m drinking major haterade and it’s a total cliche to hate A. Hathz, but I do. So sue me. I also hate Zooey Deschanel so I’m about the most cliched hater there is. That said, her rendition of Dreamed a Dream is NOT BAD! And even if she’s annoying, we can take comfort in knowing she’ll die quickly. RIP Fantine!


3) At least Nick Jonas isn’t playing Marius, though he is the hottest of the Jonas Brothers.

4) Though who really cares who plays Marius because homeboy is BORING. I don’t understand when all the ladies (well, two of the ladies) get their 1800’s bloomer style panties in such a twist about dumb snoozeville Marius, especially when they’ve got ENJOLRAS around. Enjolras is hot shit, you guys. He’s the leader of the student revolution, always wears amazing vests and he really cares. He’s so passionate! He’s like that sexy guy in college who actually read the newspaper and went on to do the Peace Corps. I don’t know if you guys have recently watched the 25th Anniversary Telethon (we watched it 2 times this Thanksgiving alone, what of it), but the guy who plays Enjolras in that version can get it ANY DAY. LOOK at this man:


1800’s bloomer style panties ON THE FLOOR. He’s saving France while boring Marius/Nick Jonas is mooning over some girl he’s spoken to 3 times. Get it together, Bro.  Enjolras’ real name is Ramin Karimloo and heis half Iranian-Half Canadian and also played the Phantom on the West End stage and I am now following on Twitter @raminkarimloo aaaaand I think we might get married.

Though I prefer him in this vest:

ramin(yum. photo via singaholic confessions)

I’m thisclose to asking Brian to wear French epaulettes for intimate role playing purposes. (Sorry mom!)

5) The guy who plays Enjolras in the movie has … interesting hair: (yum?? photo via IMDB)

I don’t know how I feel about this.

6) Speaking of nervous making casting choices, let’s just get right to it: Russell Crowe. I’ve said before the deep passion I oddly feel for poor Javert, who just wants to do what he thinks is right, and Javert sings one of my All Time Favorite ballads, Stars:


Are you crying? If not, you might not have a soul.

Russell Crowe was great in that movie Gladiator and I’m sure he’s a great fellow (though, from what I’ve read in People magazine, he’s not that charming IRL), but I just don’t know that he can deliver this character! Javert requires discipline, vocal power and the tiniest bit of emotional vulnerability. And we’re leaving it up to this guy??

no (YIKES. photo via fitperez)

I don’t feel good about this!!!

7) That said, I’m all on board for Hugh Jackman as Valjean. He’s amazing. But I might be biased because Hugh and I are basically besties. Not to brag but I’ve seen him walking around the West Village with his kids THREE times. Do you think he’ll invite me to the Oscars?

8) How great is Eponine? <3

9) Remember THIS???



10) While we’re LOLing, have you seen this clip of various actors from all over the world who have played Valjean coming together to sing a medley of One Day More in their native languages?


Is it ethnocentric that I find this hilarious??? Hilariously awesome, but still. It’s amazing. First they all parade out with flags of their country, like it’s the Olympic Opening Ceremony or something and there’s A JAPANESE VALJEAN, you guys. And a Hungarian one who looks JUST like you’d imagine a Hungarian guy to look. And they all have the most perfectly stereotypical names, like Henk Poort from The Netherlands or the Austrian gentleman Reinhard Brussman.

And yet, despite making fun of these gentleman, this song STILL makes me cry. I need help!

11) Did you know there is a pornographic actor named Jean Val Jean?? I didn’t until doing research tonight. Don’t click through this link! Or do! I don’t know what you’re into! Thanks to him there’s an actual movie called Sexual Exploits of Jean Valjean. I miiiight have to rent it.

12) How much Les Mis fanfic do you think is out there? Do you think there’s a big market for erotic fiction about Enjolras having generally vanilla sex with a book publicist who travels back in time from the 21st Century? Asking for a friend!

13) Oh yeah! Helena Bonham Carter & Sascha Baron Cohen as the Thenardiers. I think it’s kind of perfect! I love HBC. Did you know that she & Tim Burton are next door neighbors instead of living together? I kind of love it.

14) Watch this and don’t cry, I dare you:



14) And then watch this:


OK. Are you crying NOW? Marius is still dumb but, OK, he can sing, and all of his sexy friends are dead :( :( :(

Good lord. I’ve just written 2,171 words about this and I could go on all night. But I’ll stop here. What about you?? Are you excited for Les Mis? Do you have some weird, awkward childhood connection to the musical? Do you like Anne Hathaway? What's your favorite song? Clearly I'm insane, but I know I'm not alone in this. We have 3 weeks to get through until we can see this film. We'll get through it together!

Ok, one more for the road:


PS: some more fantastic reading on the subject: http://thoughtcatalog.com/2012/20-things-to-do-while-waiting-for-the-les-miserables-movie/

(Super similar to this, but full disclaimer: I wrote this before reading her piece, such is the internet, we must just be kindred spirits!)