Samantha Barks in Celia Kritharioti

Posted on March 26, 2013

Boy, Taylor Swift is going to be pissed someone got to this dress before she did.

 

Samantha Barks at the Jameson Empire Awards 2013 in a sleveless dress by Greek designer Celia Kritharioti paired with Jimmy Choo shoes.

Celia Kritharioti Spring 2012 Collection

It’s … just okay. It certainly couldn’t be any more standard than it is. We just wish she’d worn some more fun shoes. That would have done a lot to bump up the interest in the look. Otherwise, we’re pretty bored. But don’t worry, darlings! We totally chose these pictures because we need an excuse to talk about Les Miserables, which we finally got around to seeing this weekend! Aren’t you lucky!

Okay, the first thing you should know is that Lorenzo burst out laughing about ten minutes into the movie, said, “I can’t,” and walked off. Over the next two-and-a-half hours, he would occasionally return to the couch, watch a few more minutes, burst out laughing, and then leave again. Tom stuck it out, but there was groaning involved.

There. Now that you know that, you should be prepared. If you can’t handle an anti-Les Miz sentiment, now’s your last chance to turn back, darlings.

Still with us? Here we go. We can’t say we’re what anyone would call huge fans of the play. We’d both seen it, more than once, well over a decade ago. Lorenzo is a classical violinist, so he tends to be quite snobbish about music and he finds the songs in Les Miz to be largely unlistenable and atonal. Tom isn’t quite so rough on the songs, although he admits there really are only two or three very good ones in the play, with most of the rest being either banal and inoffensive, or hitting the ear like a cat’s claw tearing through tin foil. Having said that, Tom always thought the play was perfectly suited for film and that it could make a perfect movie musical because bombast and melodrama  tend to play well on a big screen, if you’ve got the right cast.

Speaking of the cast, we have no issue with any of the choices and we think everyone deserves a tip of the hat for so clearly working their asses off.

But that’s the problem. We could so clearly see the cast working their asses off. Director Tom Hooper made the decision to shoot the cast members singing their songs live (instead of lip-synching to a pre-recorded track), arguing that it would give the film more intimacy and allow the actors to focus on their feelings, rather than worrying about whether their lips match up with the recording. It was an interesting idea, but for us, a spectacular failure. There wasn’t one song that wasn’t ruined by an actor straining so hard to hit their notes while sobbing or screaming or running. Hell, Eddie Redmayne couldn’t even sit in a chair and sing a ballad about his dead friends without every single vein in his head threatening to erupt and spew blood all over the camera.

Yes, it’s true that watching the play means we’re watching actors sing live, but they’re fairly far away from even the best seats in the house. Hooper, quite oddly, chose to keep the camera mere inches from most of the characters’ faces as they sang, letting us see every snot bubble, straining vein, and bloodshot eye. The argument in favor of this technique is probably Anne Hathaway’s performance of “I Dreamed a Dream,” which really was engrossing in a horrifying kind of way. She deserved an Oscar nom for the performance, but we didn’t love the technique used.

In fact, our entire criticism of the film comes down to two simple choices: the live recording of the songs, and the extreme close-ups on the actors as they sang, removing them from the context of a scene and pretty much doing away with a need for a chorus. It was, to us, a musical that didn’t seem to like musicals much, choosing to focus on the acting to the detriment of the singing and the dancing (which was practically non-existent). For us, truly good musicals depict acting through singing and dancing. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, but Hooper clearly thought he had to make a choice. Musical numbers are there to depict a character’s state of mind. It’s a form of emotional metaphor. In a classic movie musical, if a character is sad, she sings a sad song and the audience knows that she’s sad without the need to have her weep. It’s understood that we’re seeing her emotional state from the inside and we don’t necessarily need to see external displays of emotion to understand what she’s feeling. That’s how musicals are constructed. It’s the entire point to them. Everyone’s allowed to ignore the conventions for their own vision, but Hooper’s vision was a dull bore to us.

Oh, and just to bring it back around, Samantha was a standout in the cast because she has the best voice and tried her best to keep her voice as her central instrument and not her somewhat lacking acting skills. She couldn’t weep on cue, but the girl could sell the hell out of a song, and in a musical, that’s far more important to us.

 

[Photo Credit: Getty, celiakritharioti.gr]

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