"Les Miz" - kinda strange for a musical
It has a built-in audience, a rather sizable one, which loves it, and anyone who doesn’t love it is, well, a wretch (to borrow from and translate the production’s title), someone clearly deserving of his/her misery.
Me? I didn’t like it. Yes, it's bad, but actually, the worst thing that I can say about “Les Misérables,” whose stage productions I managed to avoid for more than two decades now, is that it’s exactly what I expected it to be – an extravaganza for tourists, at turns middle-brow and pretentious.
Also tedious, bloated and exhausting.
Given that it’s based on the imposing Victor Hugo tome, in which just about everyone suffers and then dies, it’s no surprise that this is yet another danceless musical, despite a credit to Liam Steel. Dancing would be way too joyful for the funereal mood that pervades the material here. Still, I missed that particular element. My hunch is that Hooper directed everything in "Les Miz" all by himself, handling all of it, even those many "songs," with the same dull, monotone touch.
A musical without dancing? Kinda strange for a ... musical. A musical without dancing is, well, only half a musical.
Finally, most of the buzz around "Les Miz" has to do with Hooper’s decision to have the film’s interminable list of songs – all 50 of them – sung "live," as if that was an edgy decision. But, frankly, there was no other way to film this material, given that most of the “songs” here aren’t songs at all but long stretches of sustained dialogue, set to droning music.
Hooper's only other option was to dub/loop the entire movie.
The songs in Les Miz" are, more or less, internal monologues. Its characters "sing" to themselves or directly to the audience, mostly to themselves, but rarely to other characters. They don't connect musically.
“Les Misérables,” in the end, isn’t a musical at all. It’s an anti-musical.