“Les Miserables” Movie Review

All right, folks. I have seen it, and there’s only one word for it: AMAZING.

I’m giving it 4 1/2 out of 5 stars. If it weren’t for two very objectionable scenes, I’d give it a full 5. I’ll go ahead and get those two scenes out of the way in my review, so I can launch into exuberant praise without harm to my conscience 😉

This is not a movie for young children. I don’t care if you don’t like spoilers: I’m going to tell ALL so that everyone who sees it will be forewarned and forearmed. I felt like I wasn’t forewarned enough; everyone said “Oh, it’s alright, it’s short and not too bad.”

Well, okay–“not bad” in terms of “not as bad as most of the stuff Hollywood throws out to the masses.” But still bad.

The first scene you need to watch out for is the song “Lovely Ladies,” in which Fantine becomes a prostitute. Her first “transaction” is very brief, but suggestive/graphic enough to disturb my mother. I averted my eyes, but Mom said that while it was quick, it was violent. My recommendation: Keep your head and eyes down until you hear Fantine start with the line, “There was a time when men were kind…”

The second scene is the song “Master of the House,” in which the extremely repulsive Monsieur and Madame Thenardier are showing off their seedy, disreputable inn. This is a trashy scene with all kinds of corruption, decadence, and all-around “yuckiness.” My recommendation: Keep your head and eyes down until Little Cosette shows up again in the woods.

Hopefully those warnings will prove helpful to those who decide to see it in the theater. Personally, I’m looking forward to getting the DVD and editing it. These scenes can be easily removed; they were unnecessary and we’re still irritated with Tom Hooper for even putting them in there.

(*relieved sigh*) Good, I’ve got that behind me. Now I can elaborate on the remaining 95% of the movie. It was everything I’d hoped and more, mainly because I didn’t expect the singing to be as good as it was.

You have to understand: the majority of the actors in this film are not–I repeat, ARE NOT–professional singers. I mean, come on: Russell Crowe as Inspector Javert?! Even I was a little skeptical that Crowe could pull off Javert’s signature song, “Stars.” Not only did he pull it off, but every other actor/actress performed his or her solos to perfection. I still can’t believe it was all live singing and not done in a studio.

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Les Miserables is the story of an ex-convict whose life of hatred and despair is transformed by God’s grace, thanks to a simple act of mercy. In the first ten minutes of the film we see Valjean come to grips with his own sinfulness and repenting of it; the rest of the story depicts his struggle to start a new life while still bearing the responsibility of his past sins.

Hugh Jackman is, without a doubt, my favorite film Valjean. I’ve seen three now: the first was Richard Jordan in a 1978 version (I will always enjoy that film), while the second was Liam Neeson in the 1998 version (I hated that one). Jackman’s Valjean had all of Jordan’s gentleness and compassion–but he also had Neeson’s book-accurate physique: very tall and exceptionally strong. Therefore, Jackman was the Valjean of the book.

He did a fantastic job of portraying Valjean’s different phases of life: first as a bitter convict, then as a well-respected and kindly mayor, a gentle father, and the determined guardian of a young man who, if he lives, will likely take away Valjean’s “baby girl.” Valjean seemed like such a good daddy . . . he loved Cosette so much, and he was willing to do whatever it took to see that she was happy and safe, even if it meant he had to sacrifice his own happiness.

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Oh, and he sang won-der-ful-ly. When he sang, “Who am I? 2-4-6-0-1!” and belted that last “1”–oh my, shivers up your spine! He reminded me a lot of Colm Wilkinson, the original Valjean of the musical. I did think his “Bring Him Home” sounded a little strained–but then, no male should be able to hit those high notes anyway, so I give him much grace 😀

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Mr. Crowe, I came to the theater a skeptic; I left a believer in your acting abilities and completely amazed by your singing.

Russell Crowe is no Philip Quast, granted. If you came expecting an operatic performance, you’ll be solely disappointed. However, Russell Crowe actually has a voice that not only proved decent, but sounded perfect for the kind of character he was portraying: harsh, relentless, stern.

Russell-Crowe-4This Javert was also very complex. He had a genuine motivation to follow the letter of the law (as he saw it)–but when it came down to it, his grace-less worldview wouldn’t even allow him to have any mercy on himself, or allow him to accept God’s mercy. I felt sorry for him. Where Valjean had accepted God’s grace, Javert refuses it, preferring to condemn himself rather than believe that maybe, just maybe, he’s been wrong all his life.

Congratulations, Russell Crowe: you nailed Javert.

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If Anne Hathaway doesn’t get Best Supporting Actress for this role, then I declare the world unjust and unfit to live in! Haha, just kidding 😉 But in all seriousness, Anne’s acting may have been some of the best I’ve ever seen.

Fantine was thrown out of Valjean’s factory (without his knowledge) after her fellow workers and the foreman found out she had a child out of wedlock. Unable to find work, she resorted to selling her hair–then her back teeth–then herself–so she could support her little daughter. While Fantine’s actions aren’t condoned, her self-sacrifice for the sake of her beloved child is admirable, even though we may argue as to whether or not she should’ve sinned against God and herself. (Discussion welcome 😉 )

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“I Dreamed A Dream,” one of the most famous songs in musical history, is Fantine’s solo. I realized for the first time how glibly we sing it out of context; it’s a beautiful song, no doubt, but it’s also the raw, heartrending cry of a young woman who thinks everyone has abandoned her. Anne Hathaway makes you feel every ounce of the grief, anger, despair, and horror Fantine feels at that moment. I hardly ever cry for movies, but I burst into tears at the lines, “He took my childhood in his stride” and “There are dreams that cannot be and there are storms we cannot weather!”

I’m getting a little emotional here remembering Fantine’s face when she sang those words. Even the memory is powerful.

431501208017198241_Ex7saZ3X_cLike Russell Crowe, I had low expectations for Amanda Seyfried. By the time we got through her first song, “In My Life,” I was pleasantly surprised and impressed. My dad was shocked when I told him Amanda isn’t even a professional singer, because she hit every high note perfectly. And believe me, she has some high notes.

Cosette is Fantine’s daughter. (When she’s little, she’s played by the adorable Isabelle Allen.) Usually she gets a bad rap for being one-dimensional and ditzy; this Cosette, however, had much more depth. She was an intelligent, caring girl, not at all a lovesick airhead. She had obviously pondered the secret of Valjean’s past and still remembered her life before he rescued her, and she was eager to move out of the past’s shadow and into a new, happier phase.

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I didn’t get the impression, though, that she was rebellious about it. She had honest questions and she didn’t always understand Valjean’s enigmatic ways, but she still loved and respected him.

Cosette doesn’t get a lot of time or development in the musical, so I think this positive effect had to do with the way Amanda portrayed her. I couldn’t help thinking, “Small wonder Marius is head-over-heels-in-love with her–she’s precious!”

431501208017198244_hgQdvs3A_c“I love him, but only on my own!” is how I often feel whenever I express my admiration for Marius. He’s another character who seems to get a bad rap from everyone but me. I love him in the book! Second only to Valjean, he’s my favorite, the most sympathetic and enjoyable character–conflicted, yet honorable, kind, and intelligent. I love the way he’s so protective of Cosette, even in the long months before they ever speak to each other.

I like him in the musical, too–or at least, I like Michael Ball’s portrayal of him.  It doesn’t help my case, though, that they often choose the WORST people in the world to play the BEST romantic lead. Nick Jonas, for instance. And then in the 1998 film . . . that guy looked like a creep. Seriously. He needed to make the acquaintance of a bar of soap and a book of manners.

But now, Eddie Redmayne–he was “Canon Marius,” at least in personality. They made him more of a diehard revolutionary than he is in the book, but he was certainly the right mix of conviction, intelligence, heroism, kindness, and loyalty. And Eddie’s voice (in my opinion) is awesome. Not as good as Michael Ball (nobody’s as good as Michael Ball), but he’s definitely my second favorite. He belted for “One Day More” and “Empty Chairs and Empty Tables.” And I’ll admit, I thought he was very romantic, but in a sweet, innocent way. Very book-accurate. Eddie Redmayne scored big-time with Yours Truly.

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And yet Marius is still flawed, and that was portrayed well, too. Eponine is in love with Marius, and yet he is so involved with the revolutionaries or so besotted with Cosette, he’s completely clueless about Eponine’s affection. Anybody would’ve seen the poor girl’s true feelings–except him. Makes you wanna pop him on the head sometimes. At least she dies happy . . .

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Eponine was my sole disappointment. Yet she wasn’t a disappointment. I’m sorry, did I just confuse you?

Eponine is Marius’ neighbor and, once upon a time, Cosette’s childhood companion. She’s a dejected, ragged girl who sees her kindhearted neighbor as her only friend. Marius, who obviously reciprocates her friendship, asks her to find out where Cosette lives, and Eponine, willing to do everything and anything for him, obliges. Marius is beside himself with joy; he praises Eponine effusively while singing Cosette’s praises . . . perfectly oblivious that Eponine has loved him for months, at least, from a distance.

“Ponine,” as Marius calls her, is played by Samantha Barks, who is rightfully famous for her onstage portrayal of Eponine. Samantha has a powerful voice and she plays the tragic but spirited role with gusto–but I felt like all of Eponine’s scenes were far too rushed. Even her death sped by. I think they developed Cosette’s character at the expense of Eponine’s. I wish they could’ve developed both, but I guess I can’t have my cake and eat it, too.

samanthaBut I did enjoy seeing Marius and Eponine exchange a little banter; I was also glad to see Eponine stand up to her father Monsieur Thenardier and save Cosette and Valjean from calamity. Her solo, “On My Own,” was flawless, and while it wasn’t quite as tragic as “I Dreamed A Dream,” it was still heart-wringing.

Final word on the movie? Fantastic. It needs to be edited, but once that takes place, it will definitely be in my personal list of Top Favorites. I have my own little nitpicks as a musical/book fan, but they aren’t major problems. Kudos to Tom Hooper for another masterpiece on the heels of John Adams and The King’s Speech–and kudos to all the actors for doing an incredible job! Tomorrow, Lord willing, I’ll buy the soundtrack, and I expect I’ll listen to it only about twelve dozen times 😉

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P.S. My next post, Lord willing, shall be a review of The Hobbit, which I saw an hour after leaving Les Miserables. Stay tuned!

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25 thoughts on ““Les Miserables” Movie Review

  1. AH!! I have been expectantly awaiting your review of this movie!! I read the book a few years back and loved it!…since then I’ve seen several of the movies. It is such a beautiful story!

    …And thanks for the warnings. If we get the DVD it’s always nice to know which parts are to be avoided…too bad they couldn’t just leave that out…oh, well…

    Happy New Year!!

    -PF

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    1. It is definitely a wonderful story! I just love the Brick–oh, excuse me, I mean “the book.” 😉 And I reiterate, those scenes will be soooooo easy to cut out in a DVD. I hope it comes out SOON!

      Happy New Year to you and your family as well!

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  2. Fabulous review! I’ve never read the book, but if you say that this is the best film version, then I believe you. I can’t wait for the DVD to come out, since that is when I’ll be able to see it.

    I’ve been listening to a YouTube video of Anne Hathaway’s “I Dreamed A Dream”, it’s a heartwrenching rendition, which she pulled of fabulously, (and that’s saying something, since Anne Hathaway is not exactly my favourite actress) I’ve even listened to it about 20 times.

    Thanks for the review! Now, I’ll be waiting for your review of The Hobbit!

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    1. Yes, DEFINITELY the best film version as far as accuracy is concerned! The musical is actually very book-faithful anyway. And I’ve only seen Anne Hathaway in one other movie: a very stupid one called “The Princess Diaries.” Although I hated the movie, I was familiar with Anne’s name when I heard she was playing Fantine. She was excellent. Far better than Uma Thurman who played her in the 1998 film (*cringe*).

      I can’t wait to do a review for The Hobbit…that was such a delightful film! And such a treat for me, too: a return to my childhood, LOL!

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  3. Yayyyyy! It’s here!

    Really loved this. As you know. 😉

    Well, discussion…to me the biggest aspect of the whole thing is the sacrificial love she has for her daughter. And quite frankly…I can’t say whether or not I’d do the same thing were I not in the same situation. Is it right? No, I guess ultimately it’s not. But that doesn’t mean that people in desperate situations don’t buckle and do it.

    When we lost my brother last year, I remember sitting in the waiting room and it just hitting me that at that moment, I would have done *anything* to turn things back and make things right again. If someone had come to me at that moment and said that making that kind of sacrifice would have brought my brother back, in the grief and shock of the moment, I think I would. I think that’s the point…whether or not it’s right, there comes a time when you’re at the bottom and a solution comes along…more often than not you take it (take Valjean stealing a loaf of bread for his sister’s child). So I don’t condone Fantine’s choice necessarily…but I can’t say that I *condemn* it, as I don’t know if I’d have the strength to not do the same were I in her place. Confusing? Yeah, me too. 😉

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    1. Good thoughts, Alexandra. I remember when your family lost that precious little one…my heart broke for you as I read your posts, all the more so since I know, at least in part, how it felt: we’ve lost several babies to miscarriage, and it’s always been a very painful experience.

      You said that people in desperate situations often buckle and do the wrong thing, simply because they don’t know where else to turn. And I agree that it’s hard to stand up here all pompous-like and say, “Oh well, I would never do that!” Hopefully–prayerfully!–if you or I ever found ourselves utterly destitute like Fantine, we would have the courageous faith to believe that God would provide for our needs, no matter how terrible the situation. That, I think, is the difference between a woman who trusts in her Lord and poor Fantine. She didn’t have that assurance that God will provide for his children’s needs, or that He would work all things for her good; she thought God had abandoned her. And yet he ended up showing himself mighty in her life! He did provide for her needs by thrusting back into her life the man who would go on to love and cherish her baby girl.

      Also: Proverbs 6:30-31 says, “Men do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his hunger when he is starving. Yet if he is caught, he must pay sevenfold, though it costs him all the wealth of his house.”

      I think that verse sums up the situation for both Valjean and Fantine, and even more so, since neither Valjean nor Fantine sinned for sin’s sake, but because they thought it the only way to save another’s life. We don’t despise their desperation at all. We feel deep compassion and sorrow for them. But the rest of the passage (verse 31) points out that, no matter the good intentions, there’s still a price to be paid for what was still wrongdoing.

      So, those are my thoughts on Fantine and Valjean. Hope that makes sense!

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      1. Totally understand, and I agree with you completely! I loved what you said about how she thought that God had abandoned her but yet He showed his compassion and provision by placing Valjean in her life. I think that’s a wonderful picture of the fact that even if we do buckle to despair as so many Biblical characters show, that the Lord is still merciful and provides even if we didn’t do everything perfectly – which is kind of the parallel of Valjean vs. Javert in the story. The spiritual story in Les Miserables is incredible if you really think about it. 🙂 Anyway…great hearing your thoughts!

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      2. Oh, and I meant to mention this too and forgot…one of the things I like about Fantine’s story in Les Mis is how that it shows that even if we are forgiven, we still have to pay the consequences for the choices we make – she had an extramarital affair and ended up in prostitution and died without seeing her child, who was in dire circumstances, all for the choices she made in the beginning. As with other “tragic angel” characters in 19th century literature (Nancy in Oliver Twist is another that comes to mind), they have to pay the consequences – usually their lives – for their mistakes, even if they’ve been “forgiven” for them, and generations to come have to pay for the mistakes as well. A good lesson. 🙂

        And you’re right, my point wasn’t that I would *do* what she did, even in a desperate situation, but that I could sympathise with the character. Before all that happened I couldn’t really understand the desperation that would drive someone to make a terrible choice, whether or not they were right – but I empathise with it so much more now because I can understand that pain.

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  4. Thanks for the thorough review! I’ve been waiting for one of my trusted bloggy friends to review this film;) I was thinking of asking one of my friends to go see it with me, but I think I’ll just wait until it comes out on DVD so I can skip the inappropriate scenes. It sounds absolutely fantastic otherwise, though! What a great cast!!

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    1. Oh my goodness, Natasha, the cast was unbelievable! I just bought/downloaded the soundtrack…it’ll be the only thing that’ll get me through to spring when the DVD comes out, LOL!!

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  5. Good review but I do have one question; I understand from somewhere else that all the lines in the movie are sung. Is that true? I’ve never seen an entire movie sung before and it’s a little hard to believe. 😀

    ~Jamie

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    1. IT’S TRUE! I haven’t ever seen a movie like that, either, but it was acted SO WELL that (in my opinion) where it could’ve been tedious, the music instead moved the story forward. And it’s so beautiful, too, that it’s a delight to sit back and mull over the meaningful lyrics.

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  6. I saw this movie last week and all I have to say is that it lived up to all of my expectations and more. I’ve never read the book, but I have seen the broadway musical and Liam’s version. To me, this by far is the best one! The singing was perfect for each portrayal of the characters. Raw and real; intense at all the right moments. Like you, I too feel that either Hugh or Anne will walk away with an Oscar. I just found your review and thought it was brilliant! One thing though, I wanted to know how to edit the horribly unnecessary scenes when the DVD does come out. ( I’m already squealing with anticipation to have my very own copy. Thanks,
    Carolyn

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    1. Hi, Carolyn! Thank you so much for your comment! In answer to your question…we have Macs, which come with a video-editing program called iMovie. I’m not exactly sure the ins and outs of it (my brother or dad usually handles it!), but you can import a movie onto the computer and into the program, cut out the scenes, and then export the edited film onto a blank DVD. Selling the edited version, of course, would be illegal, but this is staying in our own home so it’s perfectly fine. Another very popular alternative would be to use ClearPlay; I’m not exactly sure how this works since I’ve never used it, but apparently it’s a software you install into your DVD player that actually skips/silences certain scenes and even curse words. But even if you don’t have iMovie or ClearPlay, I thought both scenes were so quick, you could easily fast-forward them.

      I can’t wait for the DVD! I heard the estimated date was in April. The highlights soundtrack is out, though, and I reckon it’ll keep the hordes of fans content until then 😉

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  7. Soooo…I’m just commenting on your review in response to one thing that you said (although I agree with you on *almost* everything)

    ““I love him, but only on my own!” is how I often feel whenever I express my admiration for Marius. He’s another character who seems to get a bad rap from everyone but me. I love him in the book! Second only to Valjean, he’s my favorite, the most sympathetic and enjoyable character–conflicted, yet honorable, kind, and intelligent. I love the way he’s so protective of Cosette, even in the long months before they ever speak to each other.”

    YESYESYESYESYES! WILL YOU TAKE YOUR PLACE WITH ME?! I so agree with you about Marius. My favorite characters are Enjo, Eponine and then Marius as a close third. My first brush with Marius was Michael Ball in the 10th and I fell in love with him right then and there (it’s a good thing I watched the 10th before the 25th as NJ would have ruined Marius for me). And then I read the book and I discovered all sorts of delightful things about Marius and I loved him even more and then I saw that Eddie had been cast in the new movie and I fell head-over-heels, madly in love with Marius. Added to the awesome guys who’ve played him, his chivalry, all around awesomeness and his fighting at the barricade and you have a character to die for (literally, in ‘Ponine’s case).

    Of course, there is one bit where I despise him – namely when he treats Jean Valjean so badly but then he comes and throws himself at Valjean’s feet begging for forgiveness and I love him again 🙂

    Your devoted mizzer,
    Eva

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    1. LOL…”I love him but only on my own!” was the line that came into my head when I started writing about Marius. I made myself giggle with the appropriate-ness of it, LOL! There is a Les Mis line for everything 😉

      I love Michael Ball. He has a wonderful voice and he seems so funny and friendly…Miss Dashwood of “Yet Another Period Drama” blog says that “when Michael sings, puppies are born,” haha! And then when I heard NJ did Marius in the 25th I was incredulous…couldn’t believe how horrid that was. So I was looking forward to Eddie Redmayne with great anticipation (and some trepidation!). Anyway, as you can tell he scored big-time with me. (And it was a little weird watching him AFTER casting E.R. in my novel!)

      And yes, he was horrid to Valjean in the Brick at the end, but as you said, you love him again after he discovers the truth!

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      1. Michael Ball will always be THE Marius in my opinion but Eddie certainly did him proud – he could be the best cast person in the movie although everyone seems perfectly cast 🙂 At first I wasn’t sure I’d like Eddie as Marius, mainly because I thought he was too ugly (!) and I hadn’t heard him sing yet, but as my bff says he has a voice from the heavens…and I know think he’s one of best looking guys I’ve ever seen 🙂 I only have about twenty other candidates for the title 😉

        Basically when I first listened to the Epilogue from the Les Mis movie soundtrack, I was feeling quite sad when Fantine and Valjean were singing in the beginning and even worse with Cosette’s “Papa! Papa, I do not understand…” but I *bawled* when Marius started singing “It’s you who must forgive a thoughtless fool…” 😥

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  8. Maribeth, I applaud your ability to write reviews which are more like-minded that some of the trash the deep-thinking media reviewers put out. This is one of my most favourite (if you can actually say that) films, especially since it sticks so closely to the Broadway production. However, I must disagree with you on several points. Having read the original novel and having experience in live theatre, I think am justified in making the following remarks:

    (1) Hugh Jackman IS a professional singer. You have obviously not heard his Curly from the stage production of “Oklahoma”. But he was an excellent sining voice and made an excellent Valjean.

    (2) Although the scene prior to Anne Hathaway’s signature solo “I Had A Dream” could have been more suggestive and less graphic, it was better than I had expected. But you cannot leave out that scene because it shows HOW she came to be in the situation she was. Without that, the storyline doesn’t make much sense. And, unless you are a mother, you have NO idea what a mother will do when her child is in need. That was why Valjean stole that first loaf of bread for his sister’s child! Sometimes there just doesn’t seem to be a choice when someone else is dependent on you to provide. You work at whatever you can to get money, sell off whatever you have as possessions, but what do you do when you become a “bag lady” or “street person” or “panhandler” as they used to can people who just stood around asking for alms. An honourable person at least TRIES until they can’t do any more and while you COULD be a prostitute in Paris, you probably could NOT be a panhandler. The police would arrest you.
    … AND …
    (3) Fantine was NOT fired from her job for having a child!!! She was fired because she refused to give in to her supervisor’s advances. This riled the supervisor, and made the female coworkers hate her because they believed she was putting on a “holier than thou” act (implying that some of them had obviously given in to him). Believing what they did and then finding out that she had a child … WELL!

    (4) Similarly, you cannot cut out one of the signature songs or “show stopper” numbers of the production. “Master of the House” gives the most succinct background of the relationship between the Tenardiers and their business ethics. Again, if you are listening to the lyrics, you will hear “suggestive” phrases, but their actions point out what is actually going on in their establishment. Taken out of context, and only listening to the lyrics, their establishment seems fairly above board, except for the “extra charges” verse. Yes, it’s a bawdy and worldly song. Not my favourite. But it’s the real world, and it was who THEY were — opportunists at every turn … which is how they got “in” with the “establishment” after the “revolution”.

    So, as much as I agree with you from a Christian and christian standpoint, these facts make a difference, and would have affected the public response to the film, especially if they loved the stage production. I think the songs as written do an excellent (better than excellent, if that’s possible) job of condensing Victor Hugo’s epic into a manageable timeframe.

    (5) While Russell Crowe has a passable singing voice (which did, in fact, surprise me), he really did not do the role justice. And since this production was very much the stage production equivalent of what is actually an “opera” (where the entire “book” is sung) as opposed to a musical (“Sound of Music” is a musical), THAT is a major problem. I have seen the stage production three different times and the PBS 25th Anniversary Special many times, and there was a certain depth missing to the two songs Javert sings. Perhaps it is the fault of the film’s director, but it would have been MUCH more effective if Javert had actually jumped when singing the final note and allowing his voice to trail off as they did in live productions. (The staging of his suicide is fabulously executed on stage!) Yes, he was focused. Yes, he was determined. Yes, he was angry. Yes, he was stalwart in executing his responsibilities … But that confusion that starts gnawing away at his conscience, the actual possibility that he MIGHT have been wrong … That isn’t subtle enough or clear enough. He didn’t finesse this well enough for me.

    Sorry this is so long, but I felt it all needed to be said. I’ll pass on making any further comments as I didn’t have the opportunity to read the complete review at this time. But I’m sure there aren’t any other things to say.
    Thanks.

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    1. Thank you for your comment, Beth! Thanks to the fact that you’re a reader of the great and mighty Brick (as I am myself!) and with your theater experience, your perspective was very interesting to have in the comments section! I’ll just respond very briefly to some of it…

      I understand that Fantine’s descent from fairly-respectable factory worker to prostitute is a very important step in the plot, but I thought that it could’ve been handled much more delicately. Perhaps Tom Hooper could’ve simply let you know what was going on without showing it. The scene may not have been as graphic as some Hollywood films would’ve portrayed it, but it was still there. There are tasteful ways of implying events without actually showing them. I’m also writing these reviews with other young Christians and parents in mind, especially those who’ll want to know exactly what’s in certain films so they can decide whether or not to bring their kids to see it. We didn’t know that you’d actually see Fantine and the officer in the ship when we walked into the theater; although we were prepared to hide our eyes during “Lovely Ladies” (having been very familiar with the musical and the story itself for years) we would’ve appreciated it if we’d known how the scene ended.

      Kinda the same thing with “Master of the House.” Again, I’m writing with young Christians and families in mind. I realize you need some context that the Thenardiers are horrid people, but a parent can explain to the child, “Okay, kids, this is a scene where these horrible people are stealing, the mother is flirting with a man who’s not her husband, there are people doing things that should only be done between married people, there are bad words we don’t say in this house–and we’re not gonna watch this because it’s not appropriate or pleasing to the Lord.” Similarly, a young person striving to set his/her mind on things above may wish, knowing beforehand what’s in the song, might decide to take a bathroom break during “Master of the House.” That’s what my aunt and cousin decided to do after hearing my thoughts on the film.

      I guess what I’m saying is, Victor Hugo did an excellent job of portraying the horrors of prostitution and the wickedness of the Thenardiers without being smutty about it. That’s one of the things I really appreciate about the book and try to imitate in my own writing; there are “gritty” details, yes, but they’re handled with great sensitivity. The musical writers and Tom Hooper could’ve probably done the same thing.

      (*smiles and nods*) Don’t worry, I know Jackman is a professional–I do NOW anyway 😉 And I did say “the majority of the actors” weren’t professional 😉 Not long after I saw Les Mis I found a video of him singing “Oh What A Beautiful Morning” and almost fell out of my chair! Isn’t it wonderful? And then I found out that he played Gaston in Beauty and the Beast at one time. I saw that musical live a few years ago and Gaston was a very colorful character!

      Oh, and please don’t worry about the length of your comment–I enjoy reading long comments because that means they usually have some significant things to ponder, and yours was no exception 😀 Thank you again!

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  9. Wow! I am so thankful to come across your blog. 🙂 I love this review and how you took the time to give a good assessment of each character! Very well done! I agree with you on almost everything. 🙂 I would say that no actor for Jean Valjean has ever come close to the singing of Colm Wilkinson, but Hugh Jackman definitely looks the part and did an incredible job. I think he’s the best Jean Valjean that I’ve ever seen (other than his voice, which was still amazing). You were also very generous in your praise of Russell Crowe’s singing. I actually didn’t really mind him, but almost everyone that I talk to says that his voice is ridiculous. It definitely doesn’t compare to Philip Quast or Norm Lewis. But he wasn’t that bad, and I wouldn’t let it ruin the movie. I LOVE the confrontation in the hospital! I think Russell Crowe does fine overall.

    I’ve seen several Les Miserables films as well as the 10th and 25th anniversary musicals, and I was so excited when I heard that they were finally bringing the two together by creating this movie. It was definitely way better than I expected! And was for the most part, my favorite cast. Anne Hathaway was by far the best Fantine, Eddie Redmayne my all-time favorite Marius, and Samantha Barks an incredible Eponine. I think Amanda Seyfried also turned out to be my favorite Cosette. I was very surprised and pleased with the whole thing. You totally forget that you’re watching a musical, and just get enthralled in the beautiful flow of the story. It’s definitely one of my favorites!

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    1. I’m so glad you’re enjoying my blog, Emily!! I’m always so excited when someone new stops by and has a good time 😀

      I just finished watching Les Mis for, I confess unashamedly, the fourth time, so all the details are fresh in my mind right now! I love the Confrontation in the hospital, it’s so intense! I agree, Hugh isn’t anywhere near Colm Wilkinson, but he’s definitely my favorite Valjean movie-wise (I’ve seen Richard Jordan and Liam Neeson playing Valjean, and neither are anywhere near as good as Hugh).

      Yes, I do have a soft spot for Russell Crowe’s portrayal of Javert…I know he’s not a classical singer and he doesn’t even have the best voice in the entire cast–but oh, he played the part so well! And I confess, too (also rather unashamedly, heehee) that I like the twist he put to some of his songs, some push beats and a slightly modern flair.

      Anne Hathaway: still makes me cry! Eddie Redmayne: For someone who re-reads all the parts with Marius more than any other section of the Brick and could his merits until the cows come home (or my family bops me upside the head), I must admit I’m still rather swept off my feet 😉 Samantha Barks: Definitely liked her better after I’d seen it the third time. Amanda Seyfried: my favorite Cosette as well–and she did the character so much more justice than the average portrayal where she’s just an airhead 😀

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  10. I am definitely glad that this new Les Miserables came out! It is quite a masterpiece. 🙂 Oh, I agree that Hugh is by far the best movie-wise Valjean. And I really don’t mind Russell that much, either. 🙂 I think my favorite movie-wise Javert was Anthony Perkins, but I’m not sure, since I saw that film a long time ago.

    I’ve actually only seen the new Les Mis once, so the details are not fresh in my mind, but I’m going to watch it again really soon with a good friend. My mom and dad saw it in theater (my mom was already very familiar with Les Mis as she saw the original musical in collage, read the book, and has probably seen every film done on it) so my mom was able to fast-forward the inappropriate parts. My friend has really wanted to see it, but was warned about that scene, so she’s thrilled to come over and watch it with my mom and me so that stuff can be skipped. I’m really excited! I think the second time is always the best. 🙂

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  11. i know i’m quite late to this particular party, but i stumbled upon this and couldn’t help adding my two cents about fantine. because she’s my favorite, and i have a lot of love for her, and also because i see her story acted out so often in the real life.

    the lesson we should take away from fantine’s story isn’t, i don’t think, that “women shouldn’t sin”, but that “society places women in positions where they have to sin or die far too often”. think about fantine’s situation. she’s a woman–a lone woman, unmarried and without male relatives–and hence starting out with a stunning disadvantage given the societal, endemic misogyny going on at the time. it’s a dangerous position for her to be in from the get-go. then, she ends up pregnant. if you want to fault fantine for anything, fault her for ever getting involved with her lover in the first place. that was wrong…but also, given the time, not all that uncommon (even the les amis speak about their mistresses as if it is common, giving you a light into the society at the time). so she’s unmarried, all on her own in a “christian” part of the world, where being an unwed mother is tantamount to being a prostitute anyway.

    fantine tries. she finds a home for her child, no matter how horrible, and works herself nearly to death trying to keep her daughter fed…and that’s even before she ends up on the street. it isn’t fantine’s fault that this happens, either. once again, it is the actions of a society that looks the other way at men’s indiscretions but harshly punishes those of women. after being hit upon (many times) by her abusive, emotionally manipulative foreman, fantine ends up losing her job. from there, her story quickly goes downhill, as you know. she can’t find work anymore–everyone knows her as “that woman”. the story can be best summed up by victor hugo’s words in the brick:

    “What is this story of Fantine about? It is about society buying a slave.
    From whom? From misery.
    From hunger, from cold, from loneliness, from desertion, from privation. Melancholy barter. A soul for a piece of bread. Misery makes the offer; society accepts.
    The holy law of Jesus Christ governs our civilization, but it does not yet permeate it. They say that slavery has disappeared from European civilization. That is incorrect. It still exists, but now it weighs only on women, and it is called prostitution.” (Les Miserables, p 187)

    could fantine have moved, tried to find some other place to find a job? perhaps. but then we would have no story. and given fantine’s character, to leave would be akin to running in her mind, something she refuses to do. fantine is quite possibly one of the stronger female characters i’ve ever read, and she is also one of those most to be pitied. because her story is not one of bad choices, not truly, but one of how society can tear people down because of its expectations, biases, and general horridness. this happens in modern-day western culture, too. young women, with no other place to turn for whatever reason, end up the virtual slaves of unscrupulous men. why? because of a fault in our society, a fault which creates faults in its daughters. obviously, the ultimate response to that must be faith in christ…but how will they hear, unless we go to where they are and try to understand why they’re there? simply dismissing them with “oh well, that’s sin and you shouldn’t be doing it” is to repeat the mistake of law enforcement everywhere.

    but anyway. sorry if i got a tad bit preachy and long-winded. i feel strongly about this issue, and about les miserables, and about fantine and yes.

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