Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Les Miserables (2012)

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Isabelle Allen

Director: Tom Hooper

Synopsis: The main character, Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) ends up in prison for many years for stealing bread. After many failed attempts at escaping, Jean ends up bitter and hateful of the world.  After he serves his time, he encounters a bishop whom he steals from. He is caught by a policeman named Javert and brought to the Bishop who fabricates a lie in order to keep Jean from being incriminated. This merciful act greatly impacts Jean and he starts showing his new identity from a convict, who hates the world, to being an honest man. Jean’s life dramatically changes for the better and he becomes a rich man. During this time, Javert seeks to catch Jean in a criminal act, subjecting him to extreme prejudice. Jean now owns a factory were his employee, Fantine (Anne Hathaway), works. He helps Fantine but she later dies. Before her death, Jean promises to take care of her daughter Cosette (Amanda Seyfried), However, Javert, police inspector, continues to be the antagonist making life difficult for Jean.

Reviewer’s Rating: 4.5/5


The acting in Les Miserables is very well done. The star cast magnificently takes the audience through the dark, gritty, and passionate world within the film. The plot is easy to understand because Tom Hooper directs the focus of his cameras closely to each actor’s face, showing their emotions clearly. The camera moves slowly, giving the audience time to understand each actor’s emotion. Lines are also clearly delivered. The audience can easily experience the power of love and feel the personal motivation to live in an unjust world. When Jean finds the purpose to live and adopts Cosette as his daughter, the sentiment grows for Jean as a character who has really changed. Even though Jean dies at the end, he finishes his journey by allowing another man, who Cosette loves, to take care of Cosette. There is a feeling of completion and satisfaction in the fact that Jean succeeded.

The start of the film was grim with scenes from prison. The beatings given to prisoners, the hard labor, and the sad songs paint a good picture of misery. The audience feels even more misery when Jean breaks parole shortly after being released from prison. Hooper creates hope for the audience when Jean’s life is changed by the grace of the Bishop, who gives him a second chance. He wants to live as an honest man. Due to the ruthless policeman Javert (Russell Crowe), Jean moves from place by place throughout France. When we see Jean later in the movie as a successful business, it makes the audience feel that nothing is impossible. When Jean meets the heart broken Fantine and later promises to take care of her daughter Cosette, it creates a warm feeling for the audience.

Jean Valjean’s life completely changed due to this promise. He starts to journey with Cosette move from one place to another place. He finds his purpose and motivation to live. When faced with the choice between being selfish in keeping Cosette or letting her marry Marius (Eddie Redmayne), Jean feels frustrations. If Jean loses Cosette, he will lose his life purposes. Due to the power of love, he chooses to not keep Cosette further adding to the perception of Jean as a great father.

Even though Les Miserables is fairly long movie with 158 minutes, it has strong language, meaningful description, and amazing voices. Les Miserables shows how the power of love can bring hope to peoples’ lives. Forgiveness can be the turnaround in a sinner’s life. Even though life dreams can die, hope can never be given up. Les Miserables is a great example of how love can change a person’s life. If anyone has doubts about love, this film will show the power of loving and being loved. 

By Selena Chen

{ 4 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. I appreciate how this reviewer picked up on the themes of love and forgiveness, which, yes, I too connected to when watching this film. I also agree with the reviewer that this is a cast full of stars (no pun intended), many of whom are indeed amazing actors. However, for me, this is exactly what is wrong with the film version of this great musical. They casted great actors instead of great singers and many times I had trouble getting past the weak singing to appreciate the good acting. This is a musical, so the songs and singers have to carry the show, which for me just did not happen.

  2. You might want to include *spoiler* tags throughout this review. I get the impression this review was written only from viewing the film for tracking the plot and conflicts, if so well done! I've watched the older movie, the anniversary all star performance, and the film. There were several adaptations I found in the film that didn't transition as well from the musical, then again the musical is significantly longer than the film and for the film's adaptation as with most, they had to carve details out that take away from the characters. I was kind of hoping the Inn Keeper and his wife would've been mentioned in the review, that was by far the best part of the film in terms of adaptation. I didn't pick-up on the close-up to read the emotions, nice catch. It has been a while since I saw the film, in the musical/previous film Valjean escaped from prison (served his time for theft but previous escape attempts extend his sentence) which was why Javert hunted him unrelentingly, I don't thin this film communicated that as clearly... maybe it is fuzzy memory.

  3. I agree that the acting was very well done. When I first watched this movie, I actually didn't like it as much as I thought I would because I was expecting the singing to be better (*ahem* Russel Crow). However, in the times I've seen it since, my appreciation for the acting has grown. I think it offers more transparency and pulls more empathy from the audience than the 'belt-your-face-off' Broadway style of singing does (although it is beautiful too). I also like what was said about hope and the forgiveness of sins. When Jean received grace, it changed the course of his life. You see him extending it to others too. He even extends it to Javert, but it is not received well.

  4. This is the first time I've seen a movie twice in the cinema. All character, story, music, lyrics are outstanding. This is one of the most amazing films I have ever seen. I truly agree with the reviewer that the film is enough to capture the audience’s mind with strong language, meaningful description, and amazing voices. I also agree that this movie is pretty long but very moment of it is captivating and mesmerizing. I love this movie a lot!!


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