Musicals are like subtitles, you think they’ll be hard work but once you get going you don’t even notice the extra work needed to enjoy them.
At first it’s quite a giggle watching an oily-faced Hugh Jackman belting out bars on how woeful it is rowing a 100 ton boat, but soon the smirks reside and the epic dramatics of Les Mis outweigh the ludicrousy of watching someone warble their way through their lines.
Looking like Golum on a good day, all saucer- eyed and nobbly-limbed, Anne Hathway’s performance is the most embossing.
In case you hadn’t noticed, this melodic ride has a choir of Hollywood greats and what’s fascinating is discovering who in Hollywood can actually sing, like, really sing – X Factor this ain’t. It’s quite easy to forget, what with all the smoke and mirrors of Tinsel Town, that many of these ponies know more than one trick and in case you were wondering, yes – it’s really them lashing at their larynxes.For all the pros and cons of cinema v theatre, the cinematic rendition is refreshingly detailed – something that’s near impossible for the theatre floorboards to create. As sweaty chests heave and tears fall the exaggerated emotions benefit from the macro intimacy of the screen.
The cast are sublime. Looking like Golum on a good day, all saucer- eyed and nobbly-limbed, Anne Hathway’s performance is the most memorable. She may not play the longest role, but she certainly plays the hardest ball and if she doesn’t win at least an Oscar nomination I’ll tuck into a hat sandwich.
Sasha Baron Cohen teamed with Helena Bonham Carter provide the panto-esque larks needed to rid any pretence Les Mis might have been accused of, and the bonny-faced mob of young activists steam around their scenes looking like how you would imagine One Direction to look once they pass their A-Levels. Eddie Redmayne and Aaron Tveit, that means you.
Only Russell Crowe dims the shine off this glittery cast. There’s something not quite right about watching Crowe hark on in such a song and dance. It’s like watching the school bully pull on a pair of tights and play Peter Pan – you get the impression his mum made him do it but if you laugh he’ll give you a fist butty.
Sure it’s long and yes it’s camp but it’s allowed to be – it’s Les Mis, not Downton Abbey, in all it’s theatrical glory, you’d be forgiven for launching into a furious clap in hope for a curtain call or throwing roses at the stage (sorry, screen) at the finale.
If you love musicals, this is about as melodic and epic as it gets. If you don’t, go anyway, this may well change your tune.