It came true.
Tom Hooper, looking very confident, took the stage at Alice Tully this afternoon to welcome everyone to the screening with a Happy Thanksgiving and a confession that he had finished the film at 2:00 AM in time for today's all guild screenings, the very first! If we were sitting there "It must mean I've finished it," he quipped.
Though reviews are embargoed until December 11th, let it suffice to say (for now) that my fears about the film adaptation of the classic musical were alleviated quickly. MORE...
By the end of Jean Valjean's lengthy prologue with Hugh Jackman lending a thrilling haunted immediacy to "Valjean's Soliloquy" / "What Have I Done?" my eyes were watering and I had chills everywhere. The audience at Alice Tully Hall was similarly elated with spontaneous applause breaking out right then. The applause just kept coming at the end of each famous tune throughout the nearly three hour running time. A standing ovation greeted Hooper and four of his stars (Anne Hathaway, Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Barks and Amanda Seyfried) when they walked out on stage as the final credits rolled.
Yes, my photo of the cast taking their seats is blurry and useless... but I was shaking and crying. Don't judge! I blame Les Miz's overpowering finale which intended to put me in this very state of blubbery incompetence.
During the Q & A the director and cast and the audience spent a lot of time (too much time) on the already famous live-singing technique. All the vocals were recorded on set, the cast using earpieces to hear piano accompaniment. The pianos were then edited out and full orchestration was recorded to be added around the vocals in post. More impressive still is that many of the numbers have very little editing meaning the actors sang the entire numbers without breaks for camera setup changes -- which is most noticeable in Fantine's "I Dreamed a Dream" as Hathaway digs deep and delivers sensationally.
Though the bulk of the afternoon was comments from Hooper and Hathaway, each actor responded to some questions: Amanda Seyfried had the audience laughing with self-deprecating comments about her lack of preparation and relief when she didn't have to sing anymore; Samantha Barks talked about her years with the role of Eponine and the big transition being that she no longer had to play to the back row on film; Eddie Redmayne was the most lively partipicant telling multiple funny anecdotes. The best of these was his fear of working with both Wolverine and the Gladiator and the great leveler of vocal exercizes; the whole cast would be walking around making absurd noises to loosen up their instruments.
The cutest question from the crowd was a man who asked Anne if she had already cleared space on her shelf for the Oscar. The audience -- filled with AMPAS and guild members -- applauded his question. Anne didn't have to answer. But then, it's not really a question anymore.
She won't be the only member of this team who has to make room for one.