If asked to name the worst cinema experience of my lifetime to date, I could list a few nominees. There was the sheer anti-comedy of Dude… Where’s My Car? during which I abandoned my friends and walked out of halfway through, figuring that the Cinema lobby probably held more entertainment than the remainder of the film. There was Freddy vs Jason, which I watched alone to kill a few hours while waiting for a train, only to be mercilessly heckled for my apparent friendlessness throughout by a group of teen viewers… and then there was Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables, a film that very nearly drove me to the brink of insanity.
Full disclosure: the stage version of Les Miserables was not a major part of my childhood, so the nostalgia factor was minimal. Nor am I a particularly big fan of the kind of sung-through musicals where characters trill endless exposition in between the actual catchy songs (see also: Evita). So I was always facing an uphill climb here.
Even so, the sheer bum-numbing tedium of this adaptation was beyond my worst fears. There are some half-decent songs in the first hour – Anne Hathaway’s I Dreamed a Dream is no less compelling for how obviously she very badly wanted an Oscar for it, and Master of the House comes as a blessed dose of comic relief shortly afterwards – but, having dispensed with all those, the final 90 minutes is a relentless slog of depression, made all the worse for the presence of Russell Crowe who changes his facial expression about as often as he hits a pleasant note.
Speaking of Crowe, around the 2 hours 15 mark, he delivers a tone-deaf preamble to his own suicide that dragged on so long that I involuntarily broke all of my cinema etiquette standards and loudly hissed “Oh JUST DIE!” at the big screen. I staggered out 20 minutes later, baffled by the film’s popularity but comforted in the knowledge that I would never, ever watch it again.
Oh, cruel fate! For this week, for our 150th episode, no less, my co-host and the Thénardier to my Jean Valjean, Harry decided to inflict a re-watch on me. Tune in to hear whether the years – and of course the aftershock of Cats – have warmed me up in any way, as we discuss bizarre sound cues, why Éponine deserved better than toxic prat Marius, Cosette’s bizarre non-role and much more, plus drinking games, listener submissions and, of course, our sequel pitches!
We couldn’t have reached the landmark of 150 episodes without the support of our listeners, so thank you for tuning in, whether you’re a long-term listener or a first-timer. For the latter, you can find this week’s episode on all good Podcasting platforms by simply following the relevant link at the top of this page, or by searching for Beyond The Box Set. You can also leave us a little review if you’re feeling generous, and don’t forget to check out the range of incentives we offer over on our Patreon page – including extended episodes, a bonus movie review show, promo slots on the show and much, much more…
Next week, we continue our run of Oscar-approved classics with one of the Gangland greats from one of 2020’s Best Director frontrunners. Until then, happy listening and remember – singing in public is really, really obnoxious…