Les Misérables (2012)

dir. Tom Hooper

Because of wins for Best Supporting Actress, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, and Best Sound Mixing, Les Misérables can legitimately call itself an Oscar-winning movie. It’s a real shame, because it’s really not very good. As a rule the best musicals are a bit overblown, but Tom Hooper takes this to hilarious extremes, while also trying to convince his audience that he’s telling a gritty, real-life story. Thus, we get Russell Crowe’s off-key bellow-singing while the camera zooms in so close we can barely see anything but his gaping open mouth. We get Eddie Redmayne’s teary tribute to his departed friends, with no opportunity to appreciate his loneliness when the entire frame is filled by his mournfully quivering face. We get Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter desperately trying to out-mug and out-accent each other while the camera sways and stumbles around, unsure what to do when it has more than person to focus on. The colours are desaturated to the point of sheer ugliness – it’s difficult to believe even the real French Revolution looked quite this depressing. The only vague consolation is that, seven years later, Tom Hooper brought us Cats and proved that he could, in fact, do worse.

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