When my mother asked me if she had to see Les Miserables on screen since she had already seen it 5 times on stage, I said, “God, no. I’ve seen it for both of us.” Many people who are big fans of the musical, like I am, were and are bitterly disappointed in the film version, which is getting all kinds of kudos and tons of Academy Award nominations. I am in the camp of the review Anthony Lane gave it in The New Yorker, “I screamed a scream as time went by.”
If you saw it and loved it, great. If you saw it and hated it, great. The important question here is, what can lawyers learn from it?
The most controversial performance in the film seems to be that of Russell Crowe who is taking a lot of heat for how much he, well, was less than stellar. Yes, no argument from me, he was ridiculous in the film. However, there is a great video of Crowe and Jackman, impromptu, singing some tunes that is making the rounds of social media amongst those of us who are what I guess you might call “Les Miz-ophiles.” Crowe is fabulous, free, and frankly, verges on brilliant at times. So how did director Tom Hooper squelch and stomp out the Russell Crowe from the bar?
It strikes me that he did it the same way many lawyers squelch the lifeblood and best testimony out of their witnesses and then throw them on the stand. “Do this, don’t do that! Be this, don’t be that! Say it like this, say it like that!” Compare and contrast the Crowe you see in the trailer of Les Miz (keeps you from having to sit through the whole thing) and the Crowe from the bar scene. Then ask yourself, “Do I do that to my witnesses?”
By the way, if you want to watch Les Miz sung and acted brilliantly in front of a camera, watch the 25th Anniversary Concert Performance. Knocks my socks off every time. Just like good lawyers are with their witnesses.
TIP: Stop squelching your witnesses.