The advantages of joining the club at Cinema City are free tickets and 10% off at the bar, both of which are guaranteed to drag us out into the drizzle. Our latest freebie at the flicks was the musical blockbuster, ‘Les Misérables,’ adapted from the all-conquering stage musical. Les Mis follows the fortunes of on-the-run ex-con, Jean Valjean, ducking and diving his way to redemption from the final defeat of Napoleon in 1815 to the abortive Paris uprisings of 1832. Anyone who is familiar with the Victor Hugo tale will know the misery of the revolting masses is relentless. The film slaps on the despair with a technicolor trowel from the epic opening act right through to the desperate insurrection of the final scenes. The historic ex-Royal Naval College (now university) at Greenwich is used to great effect as the grand backdrop to the bloody revolution. I presume the lofty burghers of Paris didn’t provide the right tax breaks to the production company.
The complicated score of Les Mis requires pipes of semi-operatic quality and it was entertaining watching various Hollywood divas straining to hold a tune. Apart from Russell Crowe’s flat notes, on the whole it wasn’t half bad, and Anne Hathaway’s exquisite performance as the luckless Fantine was a tear-jerking revelation. The film is 2 ½ hours long which befits one of the longest novels ever penned. The Glums canters the distance well enough. Misery was never so much fun.