My total passion for this musical started many years ago in stage school when my best friend’s brother landed the part of Gavroche. I even remember begging my teacher to hear me sing ‘Castle on a Cloud’ in a hopeful bid to audition as Cosette, this took a huge amount of out of character courage. Too old and too tall I hadn’t a chance but she sympathetically allowed me to sing anyway.
I was lucky enough to see it a couple of times in the West End and whilst living in Hong Kong my Dad took me to see the touring cast. I don’t think he’s recovered from hours of me announcing ‘this song’s my favourite’ and singing every word and aired his woes in his speech as Father of the Bride. Owing to this I knew it would be a struggle to find someone to go to the cinema for the film with me. Resolved to go alone my long suffering sister obliged with the firm warning that if I embarrassed her she would move!
It would be impossible for me not to love the film which is breath-taking from the very start. The film illustrates the deprivation, desolation and utter-desperation of the characters in a way a theatre setting couldn’t. The cast is absolutely amazing except for Russell Crowe!! I loathe to say anything negative but why him!? If it wasn’t for the two epic solos Javert must perform he may have pulled it off, yet as positive as I wanted to be during these I actually cringed. They’ve added and changed a few words but nothing that I thought detracted from the original. There is a new song but I’ve only heard it once so will reserve judgement. I adore Eddie Redmayne who plays Marius perfectly the scene of the funeral rebellion is magnificent and him singing ‘Empty Chairs at Empty Tables’ harrowing.
I do not think myself a theatre snob but was surprised how different the same story on different medium could be. It feels like something is lacking in the film and I’m afraid I think it’s as simple as it not being the live musical. No band striking up those first chords in the pit, little applause to break the horror and sobbing. This doesn’t mean I didn’t love it and is not a criticism, it probably should have been obvious but I was surprised! Does this mean I won’t try to see it again, buy the DVD and watch it and sing along every chance I get – hell no!!
This is a must-see film and amazingly re-creates the most magnificent musical of all time!
I may have mouthed a few of the words but I only said ‘this is my favourite song’ once and I was nowhere near as embarrassing as the man in front of us who was very much in touch with his emotional side!