BWW Blog: Natalie Toro - I Hear You Wanna Know What I Thought Of Les Miserables?
So many people have been emailing me and asking me what I thought of the movie? I have not answered most because I wanted to sit with my "feelings" and make sure that what I thought came from the "right" place. But is there ever a right place when you give an opinion of a show or of some else's work? I mean who the hell am I? Is it a coincidence that I am blogging this month? Do I sit here and give my blah opinion written in black and white forever or do I slash its throat at the helm and let it all hang out? I have certainly gotten my share of evil black and white reviews, some so rotten that it felt like the critic had a personal vendetta against me. Did I deserve it? Well, it's a matter of opinion.
Like many of us, we wondered if they would ever make a movie. I used to hear friends all the time guessing at who would be their favorite cast of stars. When they produced the 25th Anniversary Concert, I went to see it at the movie theater when they had a one -time deal with theaters across the country showing the concert, only at a certain time just for one day. It blew me away. I went with my sister who never saw the show and didn't even know what it was about. We left the theater in a heap of emotional wreck-ness. I ask you why they had to hire Nick Jonas as Marius? Every time, he opened his mouth, he looked constipated. It was awful. But hey, someone might have liked him. How about the teenage screaming group of girls squealing very high-pitched sounds and who had their phones out to snap a picture of him every time he was on the screen? But now a motion picture... It's like waiting to exhale.
The moment it was announced that the release would be on Christmas Day, my very good friend, David, called me right away. His birthday is on December 28th. He said the only thing he wanted for his birthday was for me to see the film with him on that day. Who could resist that request? He lives in Boston and so we worked it out. Then came the jacket conversation. You see, because he was so crazy for the show, I ordered a Les Miz show jacket for him way back when with his name embroidered on the front. He didn't like it when complete strangers would call out his name cause they saw it on the jacket, so he had the stitching released and re-stitched it "General Lamarque". Freaking genius!
For you Les Mizzers, you know there is NO actual character in the show played by an actor with that name. He is just mentioned a couple of times. Anyway, he wore it with pride and thus made me dust the cobwebs off of my jacket. On December 28th, we showed up at the beautiful Ziegfeld Theater in NYC, the only place to see a movie musical, such old charm and history, red velvet seats and a sound system that make your intestines rumble to the beat of the bass.
The anticipation was killing me. I'm about to experience how life imitates art with the actors singing live and raw. I knew it wasn't going to be Broadway caliber singing. It was like real people. What does raw mean? Pretend you were walking down the street and all your thoughts are jumbled in your brain, you hear the orchestra start to play, you take a deep breath and you start singing your song. I mean, wouldn't that be awesome if real life were that way? Imagine the whole world singing? I know what you're thinking right now, your voice sucks and you wouldn't be found dead singing out on the streets. So you suck, but I still think you would be cool!
Popcorn, check. Chocolate, check. Soft drink, check. Box of tissues, check. Places everyone...lights off and downbeat! Held my breath. OMG!
I was waiting to feel something, to fall off my chair, to have my boogers running down my chin like when I saw the stage production.
The first scene in the shipyard was amazing. I felt like I was in the water with Jackman and all those filthy, smelly inmates. I felt Valjean's pain, felt the agony and the loneliness. Crowe even had me...for the moment and when I say moment, the tiniest flicker of a millisecond. But something else was terribly wrong. Where were those lush orchestrations from the original score? How come my intestines weren't jumping to the bass? Where the hell was the sound??? I looked around the theater at all the speakers they had on the sidewalls. Did someone forget to turn them on? Cause they were off. Are you serious?? All the sound was coming from the front. I felt cheated and it took me out of the movie. For those that know me, I am a Sound Diva. The sound can make or break a show for me. But the orchestrations were thin. I wonder since it was raw and sung live, they had to cut down some of the instruments. I did not like that!
Tried so hard to get back into the film.
When Jackman sang about breaking his parole in the church, really brought me to a place that I was so familiar with. Jackman was brilliant, his layers, his depth, his turmoil. I felt like he was living his question. It was an "Ah" moment. Yes, I'm ready to be taken. Take me there! But once I was in that ecstasy state, I was quickly brought down like a bad hangover from a night of partying once the story got on its way. Don't get me wrong, Hathaway kicked some serious booty. I was very proud of her performance. She took me on her journey with those huge eyes and crestfallen dejected soul as if I was standing right next to her. In fact, I was standing right next to everyone who sang a solo. I mean, Jesus! The Director didn't leave any room for imagination. Everyone who sang a solo had the camera so close to his or her face, all you saw were nose hairs. And literal direction does not impress me. When a chair was mentioned in a song, you saw a chair, then a window was mentioned, oh, there's the window and so on and so on. During "Bring Him Home", I felt Valjean was more like a tiger approaching and trying to decide what to do with his prey as Marius lie sleeping. Should I kill it? Should I keep it? Again, it took me out of one of the most beautiful moments in the show. I was impressed though with how he sang that song, even though he was pacing back and forth.