I even went to see the touring show when I was a senior in HS, and though our seats were terrible I remember a few tidbits from the show clearly, and it has always been one of my most loved, most favorite Broadway productions to listen to or watch. I blogged here about the amazing concert version, which I LOVED.
In that link (in the last paragraph), I think I communicated my complete and utter loathing of the filmed "Phantom of the Opera" featuring Gerard Butler in the title role. I found it atrocious and dull and offensively poorly sung and acted and I didn't get it at all. I had never seen the show onstage, so I'm not sure if it's just that the show is a bit campy and over-the-top, but I had always loved the music, so this adaptation was frustrating to me. I wish that when they make movie versions of Broadway shows that they would seriously consider casting stars of the stage instead of only using big(ish) named Hollywood types.
I have to say, though, my loathing of Butler's performance is second only to the mockery of modern theater that is the filmed version of "Jekyll and Hyde" starring... it's bad... you sure you want to know? Okay... David Hasselhoff. Yep. I warned you. It was uncomfortable to watch... and that's putting it mildly. I understand he did play the part on the stage, but that doesn't make him a Broadway-caliber singer. It just makes him a gimmick.
SO, when I heard they were making a full-on movie-film version of "Les Miserables", I was a bit nervous, to say the least. It's only the best, most popular, most beloved musical of all time. Let's not muck it up, okay? I decided to reserve judgment... to wait before I decided it would be awful... Then I heard about the casting. Here's the list of principals from IMDB (don't ask me why they are in this order):
|Sacha Baron Cohen||...|
|Helena Bonham Carter||...|
Hugh Jackman? Okay. He's pretty enough to at least make watching pleasant, and he's a dang good actor and he's done a large handful of Broadway shows, so I assume he really can sing. And I liked Amanda Seyfried in "Mamma Mia", so there's promise there. But Anne Hathaway? Hmm... Russell Crowe? Hmm... I don't know. Plus, would the filmmakers give the story the grit and truth it deserves, without overdoing the drama-- bleeding into melodrama? I was nervous, but still mildly interested. Until I saw this:
First of all, Anne Hathaway manages to inject such pure, raw emotion into the song, that I pretty much stopped thinking and was sucked into the story immediately. Probably because I know the story so well... it might not have that effect on you if you aren't familiar with it. That also might mean you've grown up under a rock and it's time to come out into the sunshine and get to know your world...
My only complaint (and I know, I complain too much) is that she is feigning that British accent again. These are French characters being played by Americans, Australians and Brits (and probably other nationalities, too). Would it matter much for her to just use her own American accent? Maybe. Anyway, I've not been impressed by her accent in the past ("Becoming Jane"), but maybe it's improved and won't be distracting this time.
Mostly, though, I am comforted in my expectations after hearing Hathaway sing most of the first act's show stopping song, and carrying it off well.
I do hope that Helena Bonham Carter has had some voice lessons, though, because as Mrs. Lovett in "Sweeney Todd", she was all breathy wimpyness. Cohen, however, was quite good in "Todd", so casting him as Thenardier might just be genius. Fingers crossed...