Movie Review: Les Miserables

I watched Les Miserables yesterday. And I came out with mixed feelings, even though, the genres don’t affect me much when it comes to liking a movie or not (with the exception of horror movies, that I hate in general).

Few opening remarks
1. I had not read the epic book before watching the movie. I am aware of the theme, the critique and the story in general. But it’s not a literary piece that I have read in depth and have an opinion on.
2. The movie is largely true to the book. Few creative liberties had to be taken to contain the huge canvas
3. The movie is a musical. A lyrically musical movie. 100%. No general dialogues. Is the book like that?

With that out of the way, my real feelings. Oh, it’s a movie that has made with one and just one purpose. To try and win an Oscar. And everyone has given it their best to deserve a place at the podium. Almost the entire star cast is top of the class.

It’s so difficult to imagine Hugh Jackman, the man who played Wolverine, being Jean Valjean. The kind of transformation he goes through from one frame to another is a wonderful lesson in acting. His body and his personality changes with the evolution of Jean Valjean.

Russell Crowe as Javert has one of the more unidimensional characters in the movie, and yet he adds such strain to it that you can feel the depth of his conflict, most in his monologues atop the church and castles.

Anne Hathaway has a short role, and she shines as Fantine. From the mother to the bitter prostitute.

Eddie Raymond as Marius is another revelation. I am not sure about his body of work, but he delivers almost every moment. Except for one. The scene where Jean Valjean tells him his story, and asks him to keep it a secret from Cosette. In that one scene, he falters.

Amanda Seyfried has a pitiable role as Cosette, amongst these stellar characters. Not in the book, but in the cinematic adaptation, Cosette’s story has several flavors. Not here.

The surprise pack for me were the short but extremely beautifully played Eponine (played by Samantha Barks) and Gavroche (Daniel Huttlestone). Eponine’s ten minute screen presence makes you root for her a lot more than you’d for Cosette. Huttlestone adds the right amount of innocence to Gavroche. At a certain point, you’re almost sure (if you have no idea where the movie is headed) that the revolution will happen not because of a cause, but because of Gavroche’s rallying voice. And it would be unfair to not mention the Thenardiers – played by Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter (last remembered as Bellatrix Lestrange). While Sacha is top draw, Helena continues in her Bellatrix zone.

YET, and this is the point where I am no longer an intellectual – the movie wasn’t theatrical entertainment. I didn’t really enjoy watching it with nine other folks in the theater. The last similar movie that I saw was “Thoda Sa Roomani Ho Jaaye”. And I saw it on TV. The movie requires a heavy heavy level of concentration. In the lyrical moments, there are such tiny variations that reveal the change of momentum, that when it happened first, I missed the moment of guilt of Valjean.

It’s a movie not for faint hearted. It keeps you on your toes. It works you mind, your vocabulary, and your appreciation of subtlety. It wants you to focus really hard for the whole of 158 minutes of run time. And worse still, if you haven’t read the book, then it jumps. It doesn’t always logically explain, or wait for the explanation to sink in.

It’s a great work of art, but do you really appreciate the art? Or, are you looking for entertainment? If it’s the latter, save this one for a different day. Its a must watch. In peace.

Advertisements

Movie Review: Inkaar

Long long time ago, there was a screeching song – Inkaar nahi karna.. hadh se bhi jyada tum kisi se pyaar nahi karna.

The crew that went for the show loves Chitrangada, and there is a general belief that the ravishing babe knows how to select good scripts. The other factor in consideration was the Director, Mr. Sudhir Mishra, who has traditionally delivered interesting movies based on interesting pretexts – Hazaron Khwahieshin Aisi, Is Raat Ki Subah Nahi, Khoya Khoya Chaand, Chameli, Ye Saali Zindagi, etc.

The movie starts with a sexual harassment case brought upon by Maya (Chitrangada) on Rahul (Arjun Rampal), with Dipti Naval playing Mrs. Kamdar (social worker brought in to help resolve the conundrum). Except that it isn’t as black and white as you would imagine. Arjun ain’t ready to accept, and he is a glib talker. And Maya has too many skeletons in the relationship closet as well. The thin line between “favors are fine” and “you’re harassing me now” is what the movie keeps revolving around.

The goods – Plotline. So, to set the score right, the script is interesting. Yet again, Mishra does it right. Office culture, flirtatious relationships, office romance, sexual favors, harassment suits, etc. have been depicted once by a gentleman with a Bhandarkar surname. Yet, this one is closer to being, rather than the gloomy picture that he loves to showcase. And it is, unlike most trash that wants you to take side, this one is balanced.
The soundtrack is quite good as it gels with the movie, and there are a couple of very good songs. The couple of Kanwaljit scenes are actually brilliant and key to understanding the movie. The climax is good, but could have been better. The first half, where it ends, could have just added 15 more minutes to wrap up the movie. The way the relationship between Maya and Rohit is unveiled is interesting. And rather than show a Maya, Rahul and true version of everything, they’ve kept things reasonably ambiguous throughout.

The bads – First up, horrible editing. The movie should have been at least 40-45 minutes shorter, and it would have been an awesome crisp movie. But then, we haven’t known Mr. Mishra’s movies to be well edited. Read the list again. Then comes the dialogue. The movie has some hilariously bad dialogues that I don’t want to get into. Better dialogues could have saved the movie. Third, the waste of two glam ladies- Dipti Naval and Chitrangada. Dipti Naval almost isn’t herself. She is bad in this movie, which she has never really been anywhere else. Not in my memory. Chitrangada looks as gorgeous as she always does, but she is off color in the acting department this time. No one expects anything, so why waste e-ink on him. Though, to be fair, he is actually decent. Or, maybe its my lower expectations and some halo effect. Even Shivani Tanksale is wasted. The best guy is Vipin Sharma as Guptaji. And lastly, while the movie is setup quite well over a lot of rapidly moving scenes that alternate between versions of the story, the damn things goes on a tad too long before it gets anywhere. The suspense is interesting to start with, but you need newer conflicting angles for things to stay interesting. Not a cat fight. Unless you are into LOLCAT videos.

Endnote – 2 of the 4 enjoyed the movie. 1 is coming around, and saying it wasn’t that bad. And me – well, I wouldn’t have missed not watching it. But it ain’t the too bad. It’s a 2.5 on 5.

%d bloggers like this: