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.
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: