GIRL ON FILM: Les Miserables

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Midwestern mom, wife, runner and early forties blonde who is also a $600-per-hour escort. That’s Katie McCollow, who–wait, that’s Suzy Favor Hamilton, but they’re awfully similar except for the escort part. Oh, and Katie is gobs funnier and is hopelessly addicted to movies and television, which we love. So Katie and her sister (one of eight siblings) went to see THAT movie yesterday. Here’s her review..

Screen shot 2011-01-10 at 11.22.13 AMBefore I begin, I’d like to throw a quick thank you  for the kind introduction, though whether or not I’m “gobs funnier” than Suzy Favor Hamilton, I’ll leave for the clients to decide.  That’s a picture of me there, on the right. I don’t know why.

So my sister and I snuck away from our lives for 16 hours yesterday to see Les Miserables, The Movie. Let me say right off, I loved it. She hated it. Everything she hated about it, I agreed with. Who can explain love? Fools would try.

Pretty much everyone knows the story, right? I mean I even knew the story, and I never saw the stage musical. Anyway, Hugh Jackman plays Jean Valjean, a guy who spent 19 years in prison for stealing bread. He’s on parole for life, and he’s like “That s*** be cray, I’m tearing up my papers and starting fresh with the help of this nice priest. He was so nice that I promise God to always be nice too.” He changes his identity and becomes successful. Hugh is great. He sings great, he acts great, I totally bought everything he was selling. Russell Crowe plays a mean cop who chases after him and basically catches him about 16 different times, but for one reason or another, Hugh always escapes. Russell Crowe sings much the way I imagine a potato would sing, if a potato could sing. Which they cannot, and neither can he.

Anne Hathway plays Fantine, a girl who works in Hugh’s factory. Her co-workers find out she has a kid out of wedlock, so after an angry sing-along, they get her fired. Hugh is not around when this happens. That’s not even close to the end of Anne’s Bad Day, kids…within about 3 minutes, she gets fired, sells her hair, sells her teeth, becomes a prostitute, sings a show-stopper and dies. Remember that the next time your car won’t start. I plan to put in my living will that no one let me die before I get my show-stopper out. If tragic musicals have taught me anything, it’s that warbling a deathbed ballad can turn the memory of even the most useless sad sack’s life into something heroic. Her showstopper is fierce, people. She kills it. The extreme close-up of her screeching out that song totally worked…so much so, the director does that with everyone in the movie. Everyone sings with the camera basically pointing right at their tonsils, tears streaming down their uncomfortably close, blotchy faces.

Hugh vows to care for Anne’s daughter, once he finds out the injustice of what happened to her. But first, Russell Crowe finds out he’s Jean Valjean, parole-breaker, and Hugh has to make himself scarce. He finds the daughter, Cossette, who lives with Sascha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter, who is playing the same part she plays in every movie. I think she has one wig, and just brings it to every set she’s on. Hugh pays them money and he and Cosette live an idyllic (but secret) life in a convent together. Russell Crowe sings a song and I see that he has 3 fillings, a surprisingly small amount for a man with such an obvious love of sugary foods.

Meanwhile, unrest abounds. A bunch of handsome teenagers have had enough, and to show how disgruntled they are, they block off a road with a large pile of furniture and sing a bunch of songs in extreme close-up. They are lead by Marius, who has lots of freckles and is secretly rich, but pretends to be poor so his unrest-y friends won’t hate him. Eponine, who is also the daughter of HBC and SBC, loves Marius but Marius loves Cossette, who he has seen once and never actually spoken to. Eponine is sad about this, but after mulling it over through an extreme close-up song and a cleansing rainstorm, comes to realize she might as well pretend to be a boy and join the furniture-fort-making rebels. She is killed, but not before telling Marius where Cosette and her foster father are hiding. Russell Crowe sings again. It was at this point my sister began letting out audible yawns and looking around grumpily at the other movie goers, before settling her angry glare on me, as if it were my fault she had shelled out 7 dollars to have her senses raped for three hours. This gave me the church-giggles, which kept hold of me pretty much for the rest of the movie, yet in no way diminished my enjoyment of it.

Back to the story: All hell breaks lose, as the handsome teenagers unsuccessfully try to defend their furniture pile but wind up dead instead; all except Marius, who is saved by Jean Valjean because JVJ knows Cossette loves him. The way he saves Marius is by dragging him through a disgusting, excrement-filled sewer. Jean Valjean’s work is done, and he disappears again. We endure another song from Russell Crowe and he jumps to his death, defeated by Hugh Jackman’s goodness.

Marius goes back to being rich (presumably because all his poor but idealistic friends are dead and the furniture-fort thing didn’t work out) and he and Cossette get married. Cut to Jean Valjean, who is now dying, though he was in perfectly robust health just one scene previous–clearly that jaunt through the sewer is to blame. Cossette and Marius find him just in time to say their tearful, grateful, goodbyes, and Jean Valjean is escorted into heaven by Fantine’s happy ghost. I bawl. A large crowd of French peasants sing a rousing song of freedom, joined by the ghosts of everyone in the movie, and I bawl some more.

I’m getting more heat for loving this movie than I am for wanting to take everyone’s assault rifles away. Some samples:

From MJ: I dreamed a dream I saw The Hobbit. The beginning of the dream coincided  with the beginning of hour 23 of Les Mis. I almost offered to play with the fussy baby the guy in front of us was holding just for something to do. Close up close up close up of:

-Russell Crowe’s saggy oatmeal face
-Hugh Jackman’s giant nostrils
-Freckle face goony bird who slums it with the hipsters until they all die
-Everyone’s boogers
Anne Hathaway shaved her head and ate a cracker made of bean paste twice a day (thats it) until she dropped 20 lbs to be in a movie for 15 minutes. Longest, boringest songs I’ve ever heard. Oh, I almost forgot–there’s this precocious kid who’s all “Oy! let’s join the revolution, guvna! Innit?” Way too much of him.

From Fran: Just saw Les Miserables, or as I like to call it, “Russell Crowe And His Friends Try To Kill Me With Song.”

That was a crippler. Katie, that was like ordering the worst/weirdest thing on the menu.
From Kenny: How could you like it? The one thing that made the Broadway version so good was the music. The movie makers clearly thought that was optional and thought their fancy expensive crane shots, and realistic teeth and costumes, and sewage and epic dramaness should be more important. The version I saw had subtitles – beneath every other scene it said “The courageous, brave, brilliant, and noble people who participated in the making of this moment deserve a place in motion picture history and an Oscar and a Nobel Prize.” I was worn out from how much they all loved making that movie.
I can’t wait for the sequel, “Freckle-Faced Goony Birds Go Slumming”.

4 thoughts on “GIRL ON FILM: Les Miserables

  1. Does Katie take requests? I’d like her review of the JETS season.

    Up to & including today’s KARMIC JUSTICE to HC Rex who is “mad as a hornet” that some ‘anonymous source’ (that wasn’t actually him this time) said he’d rather be fired than coach the Jets again if Woody won’t spend more money to revamp the offense. Tebow is too saint-like to laugh but I haven’t stopped to take a breath.

    I am convinced the NFL keeps the Jets around only for comic relief. And to prompt all the other teams’ fans to feel gratitude that no matter how much THEIR team sucks, at least they aren’t the Jets.

    And now, I think I hear Timmy singing –

    “I had a dream my life would be
    So different from this hell I’m living
    So different now from what it seemed
    Now the JETS have killed the dream I dreamed.”

    HAPPY NEW YEARS!

  2. Well done. I found this review from a “Google Alert” I have set for the phrase “saggy oatmeal face.” I like the idea of a bidding war between NBC and ABC for the TV rights to the SBC-HBC child.

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