Today I feel very excited to bring you my review of the BBC’s new miniseries version of Les Miserables. I’ll be honest, I was expecting a lot from this show and wasn’t sure I was going to get it, but–thankfully–this show was pretty amazing. Not perfect (but who is, really?), but great anyway.
So I first heard about this new version (remake?) of Les Miserables late last year but I forgot about it pretty soon afterward because there didn’t seem to be any solid evidence that it was happening, or at least that it was happening any time in the immediate future.
And then, in January this year, I randomly came across it again and realised that the first episode was airing in a matter of days. This got me extremely excited, but since I don’t have TV or any streaming services I still had to wait months until it came out on DVD in order to watch it.
But finally, at the end of August, I was able to get my hands on a DVD copy. Needless to say, I immediately began watching and judging. And since I know a good amount of you guys are Les Mis fans too I thought I would share my thoughts with you as well.
I literally squealed (ask my family) when the opening scene came on and it was Baron Pontmercy and Thenadier at the Battle of Waterloo. 🙂
A few great things about the plot:
-Fantine was given three whole episodes! I really appreciated that Fantine’s backstory was expanded on quite a bit and it showed her relationship with Felix.
-A lot more information was given on Valjean.
-Marius was integrated into the story from the very first episode, instead of just popping up randomly at the end of the first act, as he does in the musical. I loved the way it unravelled his complex relationship with his father and grandfather.
-Several things that don’t make sense in abridged versions were straightened out here.
-A few lesser known, but still great, scenes and plot points from the book were included here, probably as little easter eggs for rabid fans like myself (such as the scene with Gavroche and two little boys)
A few not so great things:
-I actually can’t think of much that I didn’t like in regards to plot. The plot was really solid and had a lot of great moments that I enjoyed immensely.
The characters were both my favourite and least favourite part. Some of the characters benefited a lot from being more fleshed out, while others really suffered.
A few great things about the characters:
-Javert was great, especially in the last few episodes. I don’t want to give too much away, but I think this Javert was one of the best in terms of character arc. Also, I saw a lot of negativity on the internet regarding the fact that David Oyelowo was cast as Javert, but I thought he did a wonderful job. Sure, the chances of Javert being black are almost zero, but this is BBC. It’s French characters with Cockney accents. It’s (usually) historically inaccurate costumes. Its a rather dramatic and sometimes ridiculous plot. It really doesn’t matter that an incredibly talented actor who happens to be black plays Javert.
-Dominic West was a great Valjean too! I loved the fact that they didn’t make him out to be a saint, but often showed his harder side as well.
-Josh Connor did a good job as a suitably awkward Marius.
-I loved Lily Collins’s Fantine! She was pretty, sweet, gentle and yet had such a fierce motherly love for Cosette.
-Gavroche was so fun! He had such an overconfident, swaggering personality and I loved every scene he was in.
-I’m not even sure what his name was, but I loved the actor who played Courfeyrac. He was so different to what I was expecting, but somehow managed to pull it off well.
-Enjolras was also…different. And for the first few episodes I was a bit sceptical. But by the end, he’d really won me over.
A few not so great things:
-Enjolras’s moustache was a disgrace.
-What even happened to the rest of the Friends of the ABC? And Grantaire…Grantaire was awful. I found no satisfaction in the end of his character arc, which is a pity because Grantaire is such a compelling character when done well.
-Eponine wasn’t very well done, in my opinion. She claimed to love Marius, but all she seemed to want to do is seduce him for money. Eponine is a tough, streetsmart character (who might have been a sort-of prostitute, like this series hints at), but there needs to be a certain innocence and naivety to her relationship with Marius, in order for us to root for it, I think. This is demonstrated well in the song “On my Own”, but I felt this Eponine wasn’t well developed and lacked that quality.
-I do have one bone to pick with Javert and that is that during the early episodes (the first two especially), he struck me as being too arrogant. Javert has always been, in my mind, anything but arrogant. Maybe this is just my opinion, or maybe I’ve been reading Javert wrong, but that was my impression.
-The general aesthetic is very bleak and grey, but it is Les Miserables, so that seems very fitting.
– Valjean’s garden in Paris was incredibly wild and beautiful.
-Have I mentioned Gavroche yet?
-Strangely enough, I also enjoyed the fact that it wasn’t a musical. I love the musical, of course, but it was refreshing to have something that didn’t have constant singing. Besides, I’m not really a movie musical person and the musical Les Mis movie is starting to get on my nerves, so I liked the fact that I didn’t have to put up with it in this.
Overall, this is really good. It’s solid and a fantastic addition to the growing Les Mis family. I definitely think it will make more sense/be more enjoyable, to someone who has read the book (or an abridged version of the book), but it could also serve as a great bridge between the musical and the enormous brick of a book. It also might appeal to those who’ve never read either the book or seen the musical.
Anyway, I definitely recommend it to all fans of Les Mis 😀
How about you guys? Have any of you seen BBC’s Les Miserables? Will you see it now? Who is your favourite character?