I listened to the Les Miserables CD in the car with the kids the last few mornings, and I realized yesterday, as I searched out my favorite tracks, that I was seeking all the songs with bits of Javert singing in them. Stuff like "The Confrontation" and "Javert at the Barricade." And, of course, "Stars." I went around singing, "Shoot me now or shoot me later -- every schoolboy to his spot. Death to each and every traitor! I renounce your people's plot" over and over in my head for much of yesterday. And not cuz I was having a bad day, just cuz I like how vehement it is.
This is all Russell Crowe's fault.
I realized when I got the soundtrack for my birthday that I actually like Russell Crowe's singing voice better than Hugh Jackman's. No worries -- I still love Hugh Jackman greatly, and I do enjoy his singing in this movie... it's just that his singing voice is a little too nasal for my taste. But Russell Crowe's voice is richer and more colorful, resonant, plummy and yummy. "Stars" has gone from one of my least-favorite songs from the musical to one of my favorites.
And now I've realized I no longer dislike Javert. I actually sympathize with him. Ack! I picked up a copy of the novel a couple weeks ago, and while I doubt I'll get to it before next year, I'm really looking forward to seeing if my perceptions of the character have truly changed, or if I'll go back to disliking him and being 100% Team Valjean.
Meanwhile, here's a song-only version of "Stars." Next time I watch the movie, I'm going to watch that scene with my eyes closed so I'm not distracted by the bad staging I complained about here. I think it will work much better that way.
After listening to this a lot lately, I think that maybe Russell Crowe focused so much on the singing side of his performance that he didn't have any concentration/energy left for the acting part, leading to the much more restrained performance in that scene than I'd wanted. If they hadn't recorded the singing live, who knows how different that scene might have been. Or maybe it was just staged really boringly and there was no help for it no matter what. But the song... oh, the song. Yowza.
Okay, just to highlight the contrast between Jackman and Crowe's voices, here's their dueling duet:
Russell Crowe, Russell Crowe -- how could you do this to me?