JTW’s analysis of the Oscars 2013 – Les Miserables

The 85th Academy Awards (colloquially known as the Oscars) concluded on February 24, 2013 at the lavish Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, marking the end to the highly-publicized awards season and to the intense lobbying that marks the pre-Oscars period. And as is the case with every year’s edition, the 2013 Oscars witnessed their share of expected wins and surprises (both pleasant and unpleasant). So here’s my recap of this year’s Oscar-nominated films. NG members may or may not have seen these films; for those who haven’t, consider this as a recommendation/warning against the said films.

NOTE : I have not seen all the Oscar-nominated films, and will give my views only on those which I have seen.


After Tom Hooper’s The KIng’s Speech won the Oscar for Best Picture and Best Director two years ago, I admit that I felt unhappy. According to me, Darren Arronofsky’s brilliant Black Swan deserved them. There, however, was the fact that The King’s Speech was an excellent film. The same does not apply for Hooper’s epic debut Les Miserables, which is one of my worst movie-watching experiences till date.

The story of the film revolves around a convict who is granted parole and later breaks it after an enlightening gesture of kindness, and how his past catches up with him when his identity is exposed years later by his parole officer; the encounter forces him to adopt a wronged prostitute’s ill-treated daughter and navigate the brimming revolutions and dangers in Paris. Adapted from the classic Victor Hugo novel of the same name, its safe to say that the story is certified first-class, and one that has seen numerous artistic adaptations, including a hugely successful Broadway musical which is the base for this film. I generally detest Hollywood musicals due to their over-use of songs, but Les Miserables takes it to a whole new level of torture.

The idea of having nothing except singing in a film, conveying dialogues and emotions through songs, is a novel but very ill-advised move. Any normal human being’s ears will begin to bleed after such an onslaught of non-stop singing (and much of this singing isn’t particularly good either). The excuse that the hoarse and unpalatable voices are part of the realism of the film is acceptable to a limit, which the film far exceeds. As a result, its almost impossible to endure this 150+ minute musical. In addition, the comedy falls flat, especially in the Thenardiers scene which is nowhere as funny as envisioned.

Its a shame really because Les Miserables gets some of the other things right, and spectacularly. The acting, particularly by Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, are excellent and award-worthy. The sets are lavish and grand in scale, though the cinematography leaves something to be desired. The direction is good but not great. The pacing and editing are problematic, and the length of the film is a significant drawback, though these are minuscule compared to the previously mentioned singing problems.

This film is recommended only to those who have the guts and appetite for a thorough and exhausting musical experience. For the others, I’d suggest that you skip this.

RATING – 45/100

1 Comment
  1. sputnik 9 years ago

    Had skimmed through the movie and decided not to watch it a while back.

    “Skimmed through Les Miserables and I am not going to watch this. I just can’t stand people singing their dialogues. This is not my cup of tea. Hated whatever I watched of Chicago too a few years back. ”

    Movies You Watched This Month – January 2013

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