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- Les Miserables (2012) reviewed by Selena Chen
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