Critical Condition: Les Miserables

Les Miserables | TVNZ 1, 8.35 Sunday

☆☆☆☆ “A star-studded cast led by Dominic West, David Oyelowo, Olivia Colman and Lily Collins helps Andrew Davies restore some of the nuance to Victor Hugo’s epic classic … Les Miserables represents a substantive commitment and yet still feels hours short of an ideal and full Hugo adaptation. It’s still effective as melodrama and far more nourishing as a character-driven drama than any telling of the story in recent memory.” — The Hollywood Reporter.

☆☆☆☆ “Liberally scattered with talent from Dominic West and David Oyelowo to Lily Collins, this mercifully song-free adaptation was a rich feast … C’est magnifique – and there is no chance of Russell Crowe popping up to sing about stars or runaway carts. Merci, Monsieur Davies. Merci.” — The Guardian.

☆☆☆ “Dear God. The sentimentality. The melodrama. The simplistic division between good and evil. And people have the temerity to slag off Dickens, the velvet lapels of whose frock coat M Hugo is not, in my view, fit even to dust …  This epic of the have-nots, boiled down like old bones to six hours of television, is pretty dire, but that West is such a good actor he makes you forget this.” — New Statesman.

☆☆☆ “This BBC Les Misérables doesn’t flash its expenditure at you like a blingy Netflix spectacle, which would probably have afforded more than one goat and extra grime for the squeaky-dirty poor. The palette uses smudgy greys and browns for Paris (fetchingly played by Sedan, a well-preserved town in France’s Ardennes) and rainbow brightness for the sun-lashed south: azure skies, green valleys and cerise for the smocks and bloodied bodies of the convicts.” — The Telegraph.

☆☆☆ “I have looked forward to this drama ever since I learnt that Davies found the musical version a ‘shoddy farrago’ (me too, Andrew) and save for a couple of quibbles, I thought this first episode pretty masterful while spinning a great many plates. The opener had a huge amount of Victor Hugo’s novel to condense and reorder, beginning the day after the Battle of Waterloo in a spectacularly lavish tableau of carnage and corpses.” — The Times.

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