Thursday, 17 January 2013

The Impossible and Les Miserables

I'm feeling very emotionally drained after two consecutive nights at the cinema, so I thought I put up a couple of reviews.

Last night I saw The Impossible, which, if you don't know, is about the tsunami that hit South East Asia on Boxing Day in 2004. The film is the true story of a family who decided to spend the holiday at a beach resort in Thailand. Henry (McGregor), his wife Maria (Watts) and their three sons experienced the full horror of the disaster and the film relays that horror in detail, from the grotesque injuries to the pain of separation and not knowing if your family are alive. All this is pieced up with wide shots of mass devastation and rows of dead bodies waiting to be claimed. As you can imagine the film is very intense and made more so by the dramatic way it has been filmed with long chaotic sequences underwater or in the hospital.
     The acting is good, as you would expect, although they mostly spend their time lying on beds looking tired and ill or swimming around in murky water. More plaudits should go to the director Juan Antonio Bayona for the hard hitting way he has put together this film, which very clearly shows the craziness of being in a natural disaster.
     An incredible and powerful film, although not one I necessarily want to see again soon.

The previous night I saw Les Miserables, which has already gone straight to the top of the UK box office and is proving a big hit around the globe. Adapted from the long running stage musical, and the original book, the film gives yet more life to this story.
     I'll admit I was worried about the cast because there were, for me, too many stars, but each and every one of them put in strong performances and surpassed my expectations. I have to pick out a couple though for special mentions. Firstly Anne Hathaway (Fantine), who I was least looking forward to seeing. Before hand I could only picture her in goofy roles such as in Princess Diaries, but she blew me away with an incredible performance that set up the whole film. Secondly Eddie Redmayne (Marius), who I am growing to appreciate more and more. I did not expect him to sing as well as he did and again his acting was superb. Finally Samantha Barks (Eponine), someone I have admired since she was part of the BBC show 'I'd do anything'. She was perhaps the biggest unknown, certainly world-wide, but played her part beautifully. She was not dwarfed by the presence of the other actors but held her own and, of course, sang brilliantly.
     Filmically it looked beautiful; the sets and costumes were fantastic and the music, which to many is already so well known, was done just about perfectly, I thought. If you are going to see this film, which I highly recommend, be prepared to come out feeling like you've been shot. Adrenaline will be pumping through you, but at the same time you'll just want to crash and not do anything for several hours, or at least I didn't!
     This is a phenomenal film, definitely go and see it!

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