My Review of BBC Les Miserables (2019)

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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.

Plot

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.

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-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.

Characters

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.

Rant over.

-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.

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-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.

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Other Things

-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? 

29 thoughts on “My Review of BBC Les Miserables (2019)

  1. Yes- it was much harder for me to wait for it to air as it did not show up until April. One of the things I really loved about this version is that it gives a lot more backstory. It also has some scenes that are only in the book, not the musical. I was wondering how I can enjoy this without the songs- but it does work- I did emotional from the first episode- which was true for other scenes from the other episodes.

    I did write a review about it on my blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been meaning to watch this one for a while now but just haven’t gotten around to it yet. Maybe soon? We’ll see! Haha, it may take years for me to finally get around to it! I am mostly excited about it in that it follows the book’s plot rather closely. Actually, I had been kind of excited for this one since I had hoped it might feature the individual members of Les Amis de l’ABC in more depth than the musical does but I guess that may not have been the case. (Also, Enjolras had a moustache???!!) All-in-all, though, it does look pretty well-done from what I’ve seen and I’m glad that it seems to have been a success! I’ll definitely need to keep an eye out for opportunities to watch it so that, maybe, I’ll get around to it sooner rather than later! Really awesome review! 😄

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ooh I hadn’t heard of this but it looks good. Gavroche. ❤ (Also I loved your rant about Javert. We people can be such silly creatures.)

    It's been a long while since I've listened to Les Mis…*sneaks over to YouTube*

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I kind of wish I would read Les Mis, but it is so looong and it intimidates me so much. It sounds like a really good story, though.

    I seriously have no idea why the internet gets all huffy whenever a POC character shows up in a historical movie. Like. People. There were way more POC in historical Europe than you think. I guess I can kind of get complaining when they change the character’s race without changing anything about his outlook, background, or culture, but if the movie isn’t very historically accurate anyway, it doesn’t bother me personally too much. Anyway, I loved this post!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I easily was able to match scene with song- the same way I could do with the book. Crazy how I know the musical so well that I could see Les Mis and match scenes with songs

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You definitely need to see it!
    Unfortunately, Enjolras, Courfeyrac and Grantaire are the only Friends of the Abc, which was hugely disappointing. Other than that, it was pretty good. I hope you’re able to see it soon 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Lovely post! I clearly must be living under a rock, because I had no clue that this series existed! I adore Les Miserables, and devour every movie, tv series, or musical production of it I can find. Haha! (The only thing I haven’t done yet is read the actual book, funnily enough). I’m really glad that you enjoyed this so much, and I can imagine Lily Collins being an incredible Fantine (also, 3 full episodes of her? Yes, please!). I also can’t wait to see how fun the Gavroche portrayal is!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Aghhh! This sounds so amazing! I always loved the scenes with Gavroche and the two little boys and that’s so cool that they have it in the movie! *fangirls* All of it sounds wonderful. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  9. DID YOU SAY GAVROCHE AND THE TWO LITTLE BOYS??? Um, pardon my screaming, but I loved all the Gavroche parts in the book and I am thrilled to hear that they put a little bit of it into the BBC version. I haven’t seen it yet, but after reading this review I am very excited to get my hands on it.
    And the beginning showing the battle of Waterloo with Marius’ dad and Thenardier??? That is so cool! I would definitely squeal. That kind of stuff makes me so happy.
    I really enjoyed reading your review, and I hope I can see this soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You should try an abridged version. I haven’t read one, so I can’t recommend any good ones, but I honestly wouldn’t bother with the unabridged again. There is a lot of unnecessary filler in it which I found frustrating.
    Ah yes, that’s a big annoyance of mine too. I remember recently I read a sort of conspiracy theory post on Mozart being black. Which I dismissed, of course, but when I researched it a little more, I discovered that there was quite an interesting fellow who was called “The Black Mozart”, a talented half-African musician who was a friend of Mozart and who had his concerts attended even by Marie Antoinette.
    Anyway, that has nothing to do with anything. It’s just an interesting history tidbit.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Isn’t it just so satisfying when you love this little, perhaps unimportant part in a book and then when they make a movie adaption, you’re sure they won’t include it but your surprised to find that they did?! *sighs with happiness* Every fangirls dream come true! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I wanted so much to like this version but I didn’t. The show seemed to capture the bleak feel of the book, more or less, but it left out all the heart. And I’m sure Ellie Bamber is a good actress but I thought she was a terrible Cosette. She played her like a fragile doll.

    The thing I hated most, though? Right at the end, when Thenardier comes to demand money off Marius, he states upfront (unlike in the book) that he’s going to use it for slave trading. Marius STILL GIVES HIM THE MONEY! So the show ended with one of the main, sympathetic characters being complicit in slave trading. Oh dear. :/

    But other than that… the acting was great, there were some little moments I loved… don’t think it’s gonna be in my top ten adaptations though!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I’m a die-hard “Les Mis” musical fan and I read the abridged book and really liked it, so I’m so excited to watch the rest of this series! I saw the first two episodes on a plane ride and loved them, so I’m hopeful about the rest, especially after reading your review! That’s disappointing about Eponine. She’s a character that’s near and dear to my heart, so it’s always a bummer when she isn’t portrayed well. :/

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I agree its probably not for everyone this version. The way you feel about Ellie Bamber is how I feel about most Cosette actresses too. I’ve never found one that really *is* Cosette to me, and that’s sad.
    I completely missed that reference to the slave trade and its definitely an unfortunate implication. It’s a pretty horrible implication too.
    Thanks for your comment 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Yeah, Eponine is one of my favourite characters too and I really didn’t like the way she was portrayed, but other than that I enjoyed it quite a lot. My favourite Eponine would still definitely be the musical version 😀
    I hope you enjoy the rest of it!

    Like

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