DVD Review: The Man Who Laughs
The Man Who Laughs is an adaptation of Victor Hugo’s book of the same name. Yes, the Victor Hugo who wrote Les Miserables. Yes, it’s French and subtitled, but no, there is no singing.
The film starts off well, with a boy being left on a stormy beach by a father figure who promises to be back for him, and that he (the boy) will stay alive. Next we see the boy struggling through the snow in a storm, the boy comes upon a woman siting down who has succumbed to the cold, but snuggled in her arms is a little girl barely holding onto life. The boy carries the little girl with him towards a distant village, but when he arrives, no one will open their doors to them. Just when he’s about to give up and lie down to die in the village graveyard, the boy hears the sound of a dog and looks over to see a small caravan.
On investigating the caravan, sole occupant initially waves them off, but has second thoughts and invites them in. Thus the story begins.
The boy and girl grow up traveling with the kindly medicine man who took them in, and as the boy gets older, uses his deformed face to make people laugh changing the medicine man’s occupation to that of a traveling circus act.
As their reputation grows, the circus act moves to the big city where the Duchess takes an interest in the now grown boy, and the second, and slightly disappointing second act begins.
Sadly whilst the first act has plenty of warmth, the second act takes such a turn as to change the entire outcome of the film. As good as the first half is, it lacks the passion and emotional gravity that Les Miserables attained in film, and as such the second half fails and bring the whole film down with it.
Who knows, if the film had more passion behind it, and maybe a Hollywood budget, it may have risen to the same heights as the Hugh Jackman/Russell Crowe musical did the other year. As it is, it stands as an also ran.
Rating: PG Violence, coarse language & sexual references.
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