Thursday, December 27, 2012

Zamboni Break: Anne Hathaway as Fantine




If you were one of the 18 million broadway bumpkins who went to see Les Miserables on Christmas, the most talked about performance (besides Russell Crowe's rather mushy vocal cords) is Anne Hathaway's exposed version of "I Dreamed a Dream" (thank our heavens Susan Boyle wasn't hired for the movie).

So friends, what do you say? Fess up if you cried. It's alright -- just tell us if you are the type that sobs during Kwan's East of Eden and we will put you in a respective category. Tears or not, there has been some criticism as to the direction Tom Hooper went with much of the film. Most notably on IDAD, he shoves a close-up on Hathaway's face and entirely tones down the dramatics of the vocal power ballad by instead creating a horrific picture of a prostitute at her very wits end.



While the mainstream media is typecasting Hathaway's performance as a sure Oscar bet, many theater aficionados chocked during her gritty interpretation. There is no doubt that she pulled all of herself into the role of Fantine -- performing the song in one take, she had lost 25 pounds prior to the filming. Making a beautiful woman look ugly was quite the task as she appears almost unrecognizable with the hardened and cracked lines on her face.

For those of us who know and love the broadway musical we are used to Fantine belting the gut-wrenching song out of her chest like an air compressor. Catwoman is not that kind of belter. While her singing is not extraordinary, one must consider her level of acting in the midst of her vocals. There is no denying her dramatic portrayal of Fantine as a cinematic spectacle.

So children -- what did you all think? Oscar worthy or a mis-directed approach to a famous song? Either way we will have to endure Susan Boyle singing the song over and over again.







11 comments:

  1. I wish she had better vocal training. On one hand, good actress. On the other, if you've heard Ruthie Henshall sing the role, it's quite understandable why those theater fans choked.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Clever interpretation that does its best to cover Anne's weaknesses (i.e. she can't really sing) but Ruthie Henshall's version will always be the definitive version.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I actually enjoyed seeing the different approach to the song. I've seen the musical several times, but this is the first time I really felt how down and out Fantine is in that moment. It would seem a bit fake if she had jumped up and belted out a strong performance. As the posted above said, it was a clever way to get around Anne's lack of vocal ability, but I actually liked it. I won't be in the mood to hear a Susan Boyle-esque version of IDAD for quite awhile.

    That said, the actor who really took me out of the story with their bad vocals was Russell Crowe. I felt that Anne's performance had so much heart that it made up for the singing, but Crowe sounded like he had a mouth full of cotton the entire time.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Its bad... I'm sorry. Its a musical. Either have them sing or have someone good sing for them.... Who cares if they dont do their own singing in this day and age.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I prefer Anne Hathaway's heartfelt rendition to Ruthie Henshall and Patti LuPone playing to the cheap seats. I think hers is among my favorite versions.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I think if you take the song in terms of reality of the situation, Annes version is quite astounding. You FEEL the pain through the screen and your heart breaks for her. It makes the song more real. If she had stood up and belted the song out perfectly like Lea Salonga it would have interrupted the flow of the movie and how down and desperate she was.....like "oh shes depressed and over it, but the bitch stood up and let us have it with that voice." it just wouldnt have worked in the context of the movie version to me. I get that on broadway when it all about the power ballads, you kind of expect that, but here, Annes version was perfect for me. It gave me the song I love, with some acting that actually made me feel her pain. Kudos to Miss Hathaway!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I went in expecting something like Susan Boyle and I got something so much better. Period.

    ReplyDelete
  8. No comparison. We aren't listening to a CD. We are watching a story. The gut-wrenching misery throughout that song made such a larger impact than some diva belting out a song a la Patti Lupone. Loved it.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hathaway gets something the actress in the stage version don't get...she gets to sing the song AFTER she becomes a prostitute. The stage version has the song right after Fantine gets fired from the factory. Hathaway nails it!!!

    On the other hand, they also changed Eponine's song order and I feel it hurt the overall quality of her character...maybe the impact of her character.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I think it would have been a huge mistake to have made a movie version of the musical that was essentially a filmed version of the stage show. I love the stage show beyond words, but film and stage are different media and should not be treated the same. In theater everything has to reach the back row. It has to be big. And there's an automatic artificiality which has the audience already suspending disbelief to a higher degree. In film you have the ability to do close ups, so there's a lot more power in smallness. I really applaud the choice to go gritty, rather than big. And, as someone else already pointed out, it was smart. Hathaway is a good singer, but she's not a great singer. And that song's been performed by a lot of great singers. If you go with a traditional interpretation the comparisons are going to be much more direct and much less favorable. Go with your strengths.

    I do agree the cuts/changes to Eponine's part reduced the impact of her storyline. Which kills me because it was always a personal favorite, but if I step back, might have been an okay choice for a film where something had to be cut.

    ReplyDelete