There is one moment in Tom Hooper’s “Les Miserables” when it all comes together. This is the scene where he trains the camera in close on Anne Hathaway’s face, and she proceeds to sing “I Dreamed a Dream” with such power, tragedy and utter conviction that Susan Boyle is probably still feeling the sonic boom.
Unfortunately this scene raises the bar so impossibly high that much of the rest of the two hours and thirty seven minutes just seemed silly and gimmicky. Listening to Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe trying to tackle their songs, I could hear the originals in my head — the beautiful melodies that I had first heard in the extraordinary voices of top Broadway professionals.
Alas, those well-remembered soaring melodies were playing only in my head. If I hadn’t already known that these were supposed to be great songs, I wouldn’t have suspected as much from what I heard in the movie theatre.
Of course the experience of seeing a movie is subjective, and if you watch Hooper’s “Les Miserables” you might think the whole thing was wonderful.
But accepting my premise for a moment, I wonder how often it happens that a film has just one transcendent scene, stuck inside what was otherwise either uninspired or a downright misfire. It would be interesting to compile a list.