Friends, comrades, children of the barricade: We've done it. We've waited months, suffered through misleading previews and hype-building featurettes and dug out our dusty CDs of the original cast recording. The time has finally come. The wait and the torture is over. Les Miserables has hit cinemas and we can finally stop speculating and discuss what went right, what went wrong and how that made us feel.
It's not enough that we simply review the movie. No, we need to take it a step further and break down every. single. song. Only since I know little about music theory and composition, I am instead just going to tell you what every single song made me think and feel. Sound self-indulgent? Welcome to the world of musical theater fans.
The movie opens on some jailbirds building boats. Russell Crowe is wearing a fancy blue hat, but don't let its jaunty angle trick you into thinking he's a fun guy. He is Javert, a prison guard, and he is a mean motherfucker. The prisoners sing "LOOK DOWN" repeatedly and Jean Valjean cannot take his own advice. 24601 is always looking up. Javert notices and is like, "Fuck you, carry this whole fucking flag pole by yourself" and Valjean is like "Oh, yeah? Suck my dick" and he does it. Also, he has served his time and is let out on parole. Javert sings like he has a mouth full of cotton balls.
Valjean Arrested/Valjean Forgiven
No one wants to help Valjean or give him any work because he's a convict. Hugh Jackman walks over some mountains in a pair of wooden shoes and ends up at a church where an old priest named Bishop Myriel keeps flirting with him. Valjean doesn't mind because the bishop gives him potato soup, but then, in the middle of the night Valjean is like "I'm out" and steals some silver. He gets caught immediately because he's bad at being a criminal. Bishop Myriel lies to the cops, saying that he gave Valjean the silver that they should let him go, which the cops do. The bishop tells Valjean to use the silver to start a new life and Valjean realizes that the bishop is a pretty cool dude.
What Have I Done
Valjean repents. He is no longer 24601. He tears his parole papers and throws them into the beautiful French countryside even though there's probably a trash can really close by. You can tell he's thinking, "Who cares? 24601 recycled and he fucking sucked. I'm a new man." Hugh Jackman sounds great while singing, but his teeth are disgusting (as they should be — he's been in the clink for nearly 20 years). There are a lot of close-ups of his mouth.
At the End of the Day
Years have passed and poor people are still poor. Even though they are sad, tired and full of face sores (so many face sores in this movie!), they sing beautifully. I have a good feeling about the group numbers. The lead characters are mainly played by actors who can sing, but the smaller characters are played by singers who can act. We get our first glimpse of Anne Hathaway as Fantine. She works in a factory and wears pink, both fine choices except the factory foreman is constantly creeping on her and her coworkers are a bunch of nasty bitches who are really good at being nasty bitches. Really, I love these nasty bitches. They expose that Fantine has a daughter and the foreman becomes a huge sexist asshole and starts pulling all this "You'll sleep with someone else, but you won't sleep with me" bullshit. He fires her, but not before we find out that Valjean has assumed the identity of Monsieur Madeleine and has gone from convict to factory owner and town mayor. Baller. That mean motherfucker Javert shows up and Valjean is like "ruh roh." Luckily — for the time being — Javert only kind of recognizes him.
Well, this is sad. Fantine is forced to become a prostitute and sell her hair and teeth. I don't remember the teeth thing from the musical, but I'm sure it's there. Anyway, they get pulled out of her mouth and it is guh-ross. My prediction on the quality of the group numbers is proven correct. These whores are working it.
I Dreamed a Dream
Anne Hathaway KILLS it. Remember when Perez Hilton leaked that preview of her singing and everyone talked about how much it sucked? We were wrong. She does not suck. She is great and she does the entire song in one continuous shot.
Who Am I
After seeing Valjean lift some heavy-ass wagon, Javert puts two-and-two together and realizes that Monsieur Madeleine is 24601. Something happens with a trial, but we don't need to go into that here. Valjean confronts his past and confirms Javert's suspicions.
Come to Me (Fantine's Death)
Friend to me: "This movie is a shoe-in for the Best Close-Up Sing-Cry Oscar." She's right. It is. Fantine dies, wide eyed and open mouthed. Anne Hathaway, a very beautiful woman, is verrrry willing to look ugly for this. She looks crazy/sounds great until her dying breath.
RUSSELL CROWE, WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO SING THROUGH A MOUTH OF WONDER BREAD? THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST/MOST IMPORTANT SONGS OF THE MUSICAL AND YOU'RE KILLING ME. REMEMBER WHEN JASON SEGEL AND NEIL PATRICK HARRIS SANG THIS ON A TALK SHOW? THEY SOUNDED BETTER THAN YOU DO RIGHT NOW.
Anyway, Valjean sounds great. He, once again escaping the clutches of the law, dives out a window and into a moat before swimming off to claim Cosette, the little daughter left behind by Fantine. Dope.
Castle on a Cloud
Cute little girl singing is cute.
Master of the House
Enter Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen as the Thenardiers. They look incredible. They sound incredible. I feel nothing but pleasure.
The Thenardier Waltz of Treachery
Valjean haggles with the Thenardier's for Cosette. They continue to be da best.
Here's the additional number that they added to the movie so that Les Mis can win the Best Original Song Oscar. It sounds fine. Not great, but fine. Hugh Jackman continues to impress as he expresses his growing affection for Cosette. They escape to Paris.
It's now 1832 and the people of Paris are broke and pissed. Gavroche shows up and is real cute about it. Little boy has pipes. We also meet Marius and Eponine. My friends and I all audibly gasp when we see just how tight her corset is. She loves him, but he's all, "you're like a sister to me," only he says it with his eyes. Eddie Redmayne is a commanding presence as Marius, which is weird because usually that character is a bit of a drip. We also see Cosette who has now blossomed into the lovely Amanda Seyfried. Marius sees her too and is all "AWOOOOGA." Javert is now a police inspector living in Paris. He spots Valjean in the crowd and, though it's been many years, his blood thirst for 24601 is reborn.
Russell Crowe, I don't even know what to say to you. Really, it sounds like you just took a bite of pancakes. Please stop eating your words.
Trust me, this song can be really fucking good.
Red and Black
Marius has such a major boner for Cosette and all of his rebel buddies are noticing. Enter the shining star of Aaron Tveit as Enjolras, the dashing revolutionary. Enjolras is all "Stop thinking with your dick, Marius. We're dealing with bigger shit" and they are. They have a revolt to plan and it is literally a matter of life or death. They sing about it and it's fucking stupendous.
In My Life/A Heart Full of Love
Holy shit — Eponine is a Nice Girl. Marius is clearly not into her, but she keeps doing him favors so that maybe he'll change his mind (he won't). She even tracks down Cosette for him and is like "Marius, here's the love of your life, but maybe you should love me instead" and Marius is like, "nah, I'm cool." The three of them sing. Samantha Barks as Eponine sounds great, Eddie Redmayne sounds a little Kermit-y but good and Amanda Seyfried is very… trill-y?
On My Own
Samantha Barks, who initially rose to fame on the British talent competition I'd Do Anything, vocally blows everyone out of the water. But the closeups of her face call this into question: Why is Eponine the only one who isn't struck with a bad case of rotten peasant teeth?
Also, remember when Taylor Swift was up for this part? WEIRD.
One Day More
Valjean and Cosette plan to flee Paris because Valjean thinks that Javert has tracked him down. Really, Javert has bigger fish to fry than some old con who stole a loaf of bread forty years ago. There's a revolution he has to quell by going undercover and he has plenty more songs to ruin. Marius has decided to stay and fight rather than go after Cosette. Eponine will fight by his side even though he's all "Whatever, plain face." (I'm pretty sure he tries to get her away from the barricade in the staged musical. Anyone care to confirm or deny this?) This is my favorite song in the show and the cast of the movie underwhelms.
Do You Hear the People Sing
This does not underwhelm. This is perfection.
Upon These Stones/Javert at the Barricade/Little People
Javert, disguised in yet another jaunty-ass hat, is hiding undercover with the rebels. When Enjolras needs someone to sneak behind the real enemy's lines, Javert volunteers with his usual muffle-mouth singing and Enjolras, even though he's never seen Javert at a single rebellion meeting, is all "Cool beans! Trust ya, bro!" and Javert is off. He returns with fake intel and almost gets away with it, but, luckily, Gavroche, a 10-year-old kid, is the only one to recognize that he is actually their neighborhood beat cop. "This is Javert, you fucking idiots," he says and everyone else is like, "Whoops. Our bad." It's a close one, but they capture and lock him up much like he locked up Valjean all those years ago. IRONY. The singing here is all fine.
A Little Fall of Rain
Eponine takes a bullet to save Marius' life. He holds her in his arms as she uses her dying breath to sing her love for him. "You're like a sister to me," Marius sings back. She dies, still in denial, with a smile on her face. Redmayne and Barks both sing beautifully.
Drink with Me
The rebels are tired of getting their asses kicked so they're like "fuck this, let's get drunk." The secondary revolutionaries have some lovely voices.
Bring Him Home
Valjean finds out that Cosette's gone and fallen in love behind his back and that the object of her affections is at the barricade about to get his pretty ginger head blown off. He goes, recognizes Javert and shows him mercy — mercy that Javert has always been too ice cold to ever show him — and lets him go. Shit gets real, folks are dying and Valjean sings this beautiful number as a plea to God to spare the life of Marius. My tears are real. Gavroche gets shot. My tears have tears.
What-the-fuck-ever, Russell Crowe. This isn't a 30 Odd Foot of Grunts concert, you jerk.
Anyway, questioning his life choices in light of Valjean's kindness, he jumps off a bridge into the Seine. The foley artist, knowing that this was his or her time to shine, adds a really nice spine cracking sound when Javert hits the water. It's disgusting. Farewell, Javert, you mean, mush-mouthed son of a bitch.
Turning/Empty Chairs at Empty Tables
The revolution has failed and everyone is dead. Everyone except Marius, Cosette, Valjean and some ladies who are mopping up blood in the street. Marius sings to his fallen friends. It is sad and moving and — oh, my god — I think I am in love with Marius. Am I the new Eponine? Yiiiiiiiikes, maybe he'll pick me.
Wedding Chorale/Beggars at the Feast
Valjean still thinks that Javert is after him (pick up a paper, 24601 — Javert is deadzo, man) so he's like "I'm outta here," but first he has to tell Marius about the past that he won't even tell his own daughter about. "Don't tell Cosette," he says and Marius agrees because it's not like Cosette is a grown woman who deserves/can handle the information or anything. Cosette and Marius get married and the Thenardiers gatecrash the wedding. Thank God because this movie is getting real long and boring by this point and I say that as a fan.
Valjean is locked away in a convent, inching closer and closer towards death and dreaming of his first love, Bishop Myriel. Cosette and Marius, having learned from the Thenardiers that Valjean rescued an unconscious Marius from the barricade, rush to find him. Valjean says goodbye to his adopted daughter and hands her a written confession of his life's events. Ghost Fantine appears over his shoulder and tells him to come with her to heaven. Even though she's an angel, she still has to have the shitty, choppy haircut that she died with. Nice one, God. Valjean dies and I'm pretty sure this movie has lasted 16 hours.
Do You Hear the People Sing
All the dead people gather to sing "Do You Hear the People Sing." It's gorgeous. This is my favorite movie of all time.