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El Tiempo, Colombia

A “Miserable” Adaptation

By María A. García De La Torre

Translated By Karen Posada

14 January 2013

Edited by Ketu­rah Hetrick

Colombia - El Tiempo - Original Article (Spanish)

Exhausted, with sore eyes, angular cheekbones and dirty skin, a bad haircut, like that of a prisoner: It’s Hugh Jackman, the same actor who played Wolverine in “X-Men.” He opens the scene, full of drama, and with him is an impeccably-dressed man who forces Jackman’s character to carry the very heavy French flag. Jackman has left behind the mutant Wolverine from “X-Men” and now gives life to Jean Valjean, the protagonist of Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables.”

The most recent film version of this masterpiece, directed by Tom Hooper, was released in the U.S. at the beginning of this year and has received great reviews. The movie buffs agree that the film seems to try to identify the spectator with the characters: that the poor victims that entered the movie with a bucket of popcorn and a soda would suffer like “miserables” for two and a half hours. The performances are, in reality, overacted; the musical touch, in reality, is a Hollywood opera, and the dialogues, all of them sung, are in charge of reiterating the characters’ obvious state of anguish.

If a character finds himself in a dilemma, he sings to the river that flows beneath his feet. An entire song, leaving no room for ambiguity or subtlety, obviousness elevated to the highest level. From there, the 157 minutes (yes, more than two and a half hours) seem to not be enough for the director to make clear the misery of his characters.

From the first minute, the melodramatic and operatic tone is clear — it would have been better to invest the money of the ticket and popcorn in a bloody mary at the bar in the corner.

It’s hard to believe that the creator of Frankenstein also directed “The King’s Speech,” a simple story told with subtlety and intensity. There’s not even a shadow of that.

The movie, which has “Oscar buzz,” failed in the double challenge which it imposed on itself: adapting a literary classic to the big screen and exceeding the first movie adaptation, which was directed by Billie August in 1998 and starred Uma Thurman, Liam Neeson and Geoffrey Rush.

This is what mathematicians would call a failure squared. It is recommended for ladies who tear up easily (there was more than one in the theater) and for worst enemies. For the rest of us mortals, the plan B of a bloody mary at the bar in the corner is recommended. If the desire for popcorn and a movie is still alive, go see Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained”. You will see the misery of the Wild West, but without feeling miserable.



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