Russell Crowe was in Korea this week to promote a film and during an interview with JTBC, had this to say about this singing in Les Miserables:
"It is what it is," the 50-year-old actor said with a smile when posed the question by JTBC anchorman Sohn Seok-hee on Tuesday. "I'm not a Broadway singer and I don't care to be. [Korea Times]
|Screen capture from JTBC / Korea Times|
I'm going to buck the trend and say this: I liked his singing. He certainly won't get any awards for musical talent, but I didn't feel that it distracted from the story. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that, to me, it suited his character well.
Now I've never seen the stage-play nor read the book, so maybe I'm unqualified to speak, but from the film I gathered that much of Javert's obsession with capturing Jean Valjean came from Javert's own upbringing inside prison walls. Javert's obsession with suppression and order seems some psychological way of bolstering his own undesirable inner identity [a good analysis of this is here]. He's a man who appears good on the outside, but born dirty and hating this part of himself and his origin. Thus his identity as policeman is inherietly weak. His single-mindedness and narrow-view stems from his not wanting to see the whole picture, which extends especially to Jean Valjean, the man born good but made outer-dirty.
And must I now begin to doubt,
Who never doubted all these years?
My heart is stone and still it trembles [AZ Lyrics]
So all-in-all, his fragile ego and pettiness should be reflected in his actions (they are) and in his songs. I'd say the lyrics of his songs show this (wanting to make the "schoolboys" "wet themselves with blood") and in his voice itself. The weak singing voice, trying hard to be as strong/good as the "lower" people around him but ultimately unable to match them, seems a manifestation of his whole character. So it suits him.
But what do I know? Maybe I'm just jealous that even Crowe sings better than me.