Monday, January 14, 2013

Movie Review: Les Miserables

When I was 15 I went to Europe on a school trip.  Writing that sentence is somewhat surreal, I mean honestly, a school trip to Europe?  But it did happen and I was supremely lucky to be a part of it.  We spent 2 weeks on the "literary tour" in Paris, then Oxford and finally London.  During the trip we visited numerous museums and art galleries and saw a play or musical nearly every day.  It was an amazing experience which really gave me the travel bug in a way that I'm not sure travelling with my parents would have.  There was an illusion of freedom (after all we were tightly chaperoned by teachers the whole time) that was exhilarating for a group of 15 and 16 year old girls.

That said, we did all get homesick, probably helped by the fact that a shocking cold did the rounds of the group.  I was one of the last to get it and I remember one day when I just couldn't get up, watching everyone else go off on their adventure while I lay sick in a boarding school room.  My homesickness was exacerbated when suddenly in our last week my family stopped answering the phone when I called them.  No matter what time I tried, if I tried the landline or the mobile no one answered.  As it transpired they had gone to the Blue Mountains where they unexpectedly had no phone coverage.

So you now have context, a group of teenage girls, heady with the excitement of being far from home, emotional with homesickness, many still recovering from a shocking cold - a potent emotional mix.  Now add in the West End version of Les Miserables.  Oh yes, we cried our little eyes out.  By the final song I could barely breathe with the emotion of it all.  That night and that musical are seared into my consciousness, so much that every now and then I will find myself humming a song from it.

When the movie version was announced I was rather hesitant about it.  Could it possibly live up to my memories?  Would Hollywood stars be able to sing those difficult magnificent songs?  Could the filming live up to what has to be one of the most spectacularly staged productions ever?  The reviews I read were mixed, but despite all of this I was determined to see it so on Saturday Mum and I went and hid from the heat and saw the movie.

I was blown away.  Seriously, I thought it was magnificent.  I may not have been the crying wreck I was the first time I saw it but I do know the story and more importantly was not a a homesick teenager.  The performances were wonderful and I think the fact that actors sang live is one of the things that made it so brilliant.  As I type the Golden Globes are being handed out and Les Mis is deservedly receiving many of them.

If you don't like musicals, there is no getting away from the fact that it is 2.5 hours of people singing, which is why we left S and my Dad at home.  But if you do like musicals then I'm pretty sure you will love it too.

Have you seen Les Miserables? What did you think?


  1. I am really excited to see this, but like you, am going with my Mum and leaving Mr B at home :P He is not in to musicals and even the great reviews can't convince him he'd like this one.

    Your Europe trip sounds fantastic too, homesickness aside. I went on a school trip to Canberra when I was 15, which was fun, but doesn't quite compare when put in the context of Les Mis on the West End ;)

    1. Mum always says that her best excursion from school was the Coke factory, so I am a spoilt lucky child - which of course I am! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and I think you are making the right move by taking your Mum rather than your husband, it is a full on musical.

    2. I saw it this afternoon and am still reeling; it was so incredible and powerful that I think I'll be reflecting on it for weeks. I think it may be my new favourite film, ever. Now I've decided Mr Bite really should see it too so am working on him, although I am not sure how successful I'll be (or how successful the viewing would be if I did convince him!).