LES MISÉRABLES (Universal, 2012) D: Tom Hooper, w/ Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe. Rating: NN; Blu-ray package: NNNN Rating: NN
Les Misérables is not your typical nifty-tunes-well-sung musical. The vast majority of it is performed in a style called recitative, where the singers follow the rhythms of natural speech and not the regular meter of music. The effect is of dialogue delivered via melody fragments interspersed with spoken words and phrases.
Sometimes, the effect is also of yelling. In the interests of realism, director Tom Hooper decided he'd record his cast live on set. I'm not sure this was a good idea. Realism goes right out the window the instant people start singing their lines at each other. Also, consider an actor delivering a big moment on the 17th take. Ragged notes abound.
Even so, Les Misérables has a terrific story: convict Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) escapes and turns his life around, but he's pursued through the decades by merciless cop Javert (Russell Crowe). There's also a love story (Amanda Seyfried and Eddie Redmayne), a student revolution and crooked innkeepers (the very funny Helena Bonham Carter and Sasha Baron Cohen).
The extensive extras provide a good look at the production and the vocal and physical demands placed on the cast. Some extras, notably the director's commentary, are duplicated on the combo pack's DVD.
Note: Les Misérables streets Friday March 22.
EXTRAS Director commentary, four making-of docs, source novel doc. English audio. English, French, Spanish subtitles.