Les Miserables Review: Russell Crowe Ruins Everything!

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Les Miserables is an impressive cinematic achievement that remains true to the iconic Broadway production, changing scarcely a storyline or a lyric and likely satisfying fans of the long-running musical.

There's just one minor problem: Russell Crowe absolutely cannot sing.

Russell Crowe as Javert

The Oscar winner portrays Inspector Javert in the film, an integral character who sets his sights on Hugh Jackman's fugitive, Jean Valjean.

But while Jackman has won Tony Awards and shined on stage, Crowe simply can't carry a tune.

He spends his time on screen concentrating so hard on each note and attempting to hide his accent while doing so that he fails to actually act. Javert is a fascinating, intense character, none of which comes off in Crowe's stoic performance.

The policeman is tasked with two solos, the final of which typically concludes - SPOILER ALERT - with a beautifully held long note, as Javert plunges to his death.

But the movie cuts the song short, removing the drama from this suicide and symbolizing the problem with Crowe's casting in general: you never forget that Russell Crowe is trying to sing like Inspector Javert. One of the best actors of his generation stands out, when he should be disappearing into the character.

Will Anne Hathaway win Best Supporting Actress for her role as Fontine? Yes. Will it be deserved? Absolutely.

Jackman is also strong, as is Samantha Barks (Eponine), and you can't go wrong with Sacha Baron Cohen as shady innkeeper Thenardier. But it's impossible to not be affected the most by Crowe and to envision the awards he ought to have coming down the line:

Sorry, Russell. But make room for a shelf full of Razzies.

(NOTE: For another take on the film, read the Les Miserable review from our friends at Movie Fanatic.)

Have you seen Les Miserables? Give it a grade now:

 

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I loved Les Mis, but unlike you I thought Russell Crowe was the best Javert of all He actually brought more depth to the conflict he was having and I finally understood his suicide He also brought out more emotion to Javert's character and made the conflict more understandable
Can't even believe your critic except maybe you just don't like Russell himself
He was magnificent as Javert They all left their hearts on the big screen As far as his voice goes he was perfect His deep voice was part of what characterized him He can hold more than a note and is quite a good musician Thought he had the best male voice
For anyone that reads this go seeds Mis It is the movie to see WOW. And Russell Crowe. Hugh Jackman & Anne Hathaway all deserve Oscar nominations Don't know which movie you watched
I do hate critics when they bash something amazing
By the way it's not Russell's first musical That's where he got his start in "The Rockey Horror Picture Show"
And funny that I understood more about the internal conflict of Javert's character and why he committed suicide after letting him go So be brought more. clarity than ever and therefore brought so much more than past.versions And I've seen all of them I don't get paid to criticize like you, but you critic of Russell Crowe is rubbish

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Absolutely disagree! From someone with experience in the industry (stage and film and tv), I was in awe of Russel's performance and his voice was absolutely captivating. The depth and strength, as well as the technique he used resulted in a beautiful baritone sound. A Hollywood Gossip site with no experience or knowledge on the industry or singing, should not be judging or criticising!

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@ Emma

Yes, you can tell the critic has no musical experience. I agree with your review. The portrayal of Javier was different, but interesting and powerful.

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I absolutely agree. Javert is such a strong character with such powerful songs and russel Crowe just looted through them. I kept thinking "this jerk is such a pansy!" Plus! You can HEAR the auto tune applied to his performance. I could just slap whoever decided he would be a good idea. Go for QUALITY, not a famous face. Ugh

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First of all, if you wanted a movie of the stage production, rent the DVD. This is BASED on the stage production and novel. Second, Jackman has Broadway musical experience. Anyone complaining about his singing has a tin ear. Crowe, while not having a typical musical voice, has done a stage musical and has sung for many years. The difficult thing with him singing is that the brain takes a while to accept the actor we know as a singer. He does an adequate job and does not ruin the production. Again, this was never meant to mirror the great stage production. It never could. Just like Phantom could never mirror the stage version. Also, I think that there are preconceived notions and biases against Crowe - and they show in some of the reviews. I also think that there is some snobbery in that Wolverine is singing in this musical. Additionally, I have read reviews criticizing the movie for lack of dialogue. This is not your grandparents musical of the 50s or 60s. Get over it already.

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I think Russell did an excellent job in Les Mis. He has a lovely ON KEY baritone voice and was a breath of fresh air in a sea of tenors. I found his performance to be extremely emotive.

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It’s interesting that you didn’t like Crowe’s performance in this movie. I have seen an overwhelming amount of positive reviews about his performance, and how he humanized Javert. A bunch of my DISH coworkers invited me to go see this movie tomorrow, but I think I’m going to wait on this one. I put it in my Blockbuster @Home queue that I have through my DISH account, so it will be mailed to me when it’s released on DVD. I love that I get unlimited in-store exchanges at the Blockbuster store, so I can just drop the movie off when I’m done with it.

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How does it make sense to suggest he's struggling to hit notes on screen when all of the music is dubbed?

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@ John

It's not. The thing about Les Mis is that none of the music was dubbed.

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@ agnodike

The singing was live...that's what made it even better!

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While true Russel Crowe would be be considered to have an AMAZING singing voice, he was on key, and was pleasant to listen to. Not to mention they filmed those main songs directly through the camera instead of dubbing them over like most musical cinemas. I honestly thought it gave the movie a raw feel. Let's be real: while musicals are a lot of time fantasies, this is supposed to be depicting a real time, real people. Not everyone has a perfect broadway voice, but they sing anyway. It added realism. Get over it. His performance was amazing, and I don't think his singing detracted from this cinematic accomplishment at all.

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@ Haleigh

wouldn't**

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Crowe didn't sing like Javert should? I thought he did a great job playing Javert, he humanized him. He's not meant to really be a villain in the true sense of the word, thats what makes his character so intriguing. Crowe played him as cold and distant, which is much more accurate to the actual book. And anyways, how much do you know how Javert should be played when you don't know its Fantine, not Fontine.

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@ Robert Salek

That's kind of the point of Javert. Javert is a black and white man in a world of grey. To "humanize" Javert is to render his suicide odd and meaningless, since the realization that his black and white ethics do not fit into the world is supposed to be what breaks his spirit.

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It was awful! Hugh Jackman was no better than Crowe, in my opinion. Neither could sing and neither gave memorable acting performances. The direction was terrible and everything was way too small feeling and close-up. Between the ugly singing and the ugly cinematography, there was really nothing to like about this film.

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@ Al

I agree 100%. I was terribly disappointed. I thought it was just the theater I saw it in. The sound was horrible. The direction sucked. It looked like actors walking around a set. It wasn't believable. I never felt drawn into the action. My husband offered to take me to see it at a different theater and my response was, the sound won't change the fact that the people can't sing. Jackman was horrible. His acting was fine, but his singing voice was not up to the role he was playing. Bring Him Home was the worst part of the movie. The song was way to high for him and he sounded like he was straining to reach the notes - not to mention it sounded nasal. So, so, disappointed.

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@ Me

I agree that it was a disappointment. I just saw the touring 25th anniversary production. twice over thanksgiving and have seen if a few times before including in London almost 25 years ago. My love for les mis was renewed and I was obsessed about seeing the movie. I was so imoressed with the trailers but was let down by the movie. Jackman was okay but he didn't hit the notes required for Jean Valjean. He overacted and was all over the place. At one point the whole audience laughed when he was singing at the top of the stairs after getting the note from Gavroche. Crowe was mostly awful. He was okay and on key at a couple of points but he butchered Stars. He just distracted from the whole experience. He was more irritating than the baby crying during Hathaway's I Dreamed a Dream. Who brings a baby to a three hour movie experience. Actually two babies cried. Crowe almost made me cry too but because of my disbelief and disappointment. He even pronounced paradise as "pweradise" in Stars. The Javert in the touring production was spot on. The first few minutes of the movie are laughable too. The highlights were the children playing Cosette and Gavroche, Samantha barks as Eponine (of course) and Marius singing Empty chairs and empty tables. The thenardiers (bohnam-carter and baron conen) were raunchy and funny. Anne Hathaway went all out but to me she over did the role a little. I thought she was best singing Come to Me on her death bed for Cosette. Think of how it would have been with all the actors actually hitting the notes like at the 25th anniversary show in the O arena. Hugh Jackman is wolverine and he doesn't play a Frenchman well. His accent seemed to go Scottish while trying to cover up his Aussie accent. I am so over it.

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