Movie Review: ‘Les Miserables’

Movie Review: ‘Les Miserables’

By Marcos Duran-Salcedo Posted March 22, 2013

The movie rendition of the beloved Broadway musical came out on Christmas Day and received with much praise and eight Academy Award Nominations.

The movie is set in post-revolutionary France and is about Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), a man who got sent to jail for nineteen years for stealing a loaf of bread for his sister’s starving child by Javert (Russell Crowe), a police officer obsessed with the upholding of the law. When he gets out on parole, nobody will give him a job or take him in, except for the Bishop of Dibny (Colm Wilkinson), who gave him food and a bed. In an act of desperation, Valjean robs the bishop of his silver, only to be caught by the police again. The bishop tells the officers that he gave Valjean the silver, in addition to two gold candlesticks, which are given to Valjean personally. Before Valjean  leaves, the bishop tells Valjean to use the silver “to become an honest man.”

The movie leaps to eight years later, to Valjean’s factory, since he became mayor. There, Fantine (Anne Hathaway) is framed for prostitution by her co-workers, who are jealous of her hair, and her beauty. After she is thrown from her job, she is forced to sell her hair and teeth, and actually prostitute herself in order to feed her 10-year-old child, Cosette (Isabelle Allen), who, since her mother can’t sustain her, is living with the Thenardiers (Sascha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter), who ill-treat Cosette, unbeknownst to Fantine. After being found by Valjean, Fantine is close to death and dies with Valjean’s promise that he will take care of Cosette. As Fantine dies, Javert barges into the hospital, having finally recognized the Mayor as Valjean, determined to arrest him again for breaking his parole. Valjean escapes, and goes to the Thenardiers, to take Cosette away.

Nine years later, Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) falls in love with Marius Pontmercy (Eddie Redmayne), one of the students fighting for fairness in France after the French Revolution.

Marius’s friend, Éponine (Samantha Barks), is secretly in love with him, but she only wants what is best for him, so she arranges secret meetings between Cosette and Marius, and dies from a gunshot wound while she is trying to protect Marius at the makeshift barricade the students have made to fight the French Army. Javert tries to go undercover to spy on the students but is identified by Gavroche (Daniel Huttlestone), a street urchin. Valjean joins the students, and finds his obsessed prosecutor there, awaiting execution. Valjean offers to execute him but lets Javert go free, even after everything he has done to Valjean. Soon after, the barricade is destroyed and all the students are killed by the French Army, except for an injured Marius, who is carried through the sewers by Valjean at great personal risk. When they finally come out of the sewers, Valjean finds Javert waiting for him. With a gun in hand, he threatens to shoot Valjean if he takes another step and doesn’t go into his custody. Valjean ignores Javert and takes Marius to the hospital. Javert questions his own views of morality and commits suicide. Marius and Cosette marry, and a lonely Valjean awaits death in a convent. Marius and Cosette arrive in time to say goodbye, and the spirits of Fantine, Éponine, and the Bishop of Dibny come to take Valjean to Heaven, and to remind all that “to love another person is to see the face of God.”

Overall, the movie’s three well-deserved Oscars prove that “Les Miserables” was one of the best movies of 2012. You can buy it on DVD, Blu-Ray, and iTunes.