[les misèrables]

Well, hello there! A belated merry Christmas and an early happy New Year to you! I’m visiting my sister in Tallahassee, blogging from her computer. And yesterday, we saw Les Misèrables, the feel-good movie of the year. J/K. That movie is depressing as shit. And, yes, I am writing this having never seen it on Broadway or reading the book. The only times I’ve heard, “I Dreamed a Dream” were when Susan Boyle sang it and when it was on Glee. This is my first experience with it. However, I do think it is the only good movie Amanda Seyfriend has done since Mean Girls.
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Okay, so here’s a recap if you’re like me and  have no idea what Les Mis is about. And before we begin, a disclaimer: SPOILER ALERT ON TOP OF SPOILER ALERT, SO IF YOU DON’T WANT IT SPOILED DON’T FUCKING KEEP READING. Okay, now that’s over with, let’s begin.

Hugh Jackman plays Jean Valjean, a guy who was thrown in jail for 5 years for stealing a loaf of bread and then had another 14 tacked on for trying to escape prison. At the beginning of the movie he gets parole, but he can’t find honest work because he’s labeled as a “dangerous man.” So he has to resort back to stealing shit to eat and stealing 40 winks in random places in the hopes that he won’t be discovered and be made to leave. Then he comes across a kindly monsignor who offers him food and a place to sleep, but because Valjean is so jaded (and, at the time, I thought not very bright), he ends up trying to run away with the monsignor’s silver. He is caught by the cops and brought back to the monsignor, but instead of pressing charges, the monsignor tells the cops that he gave the silver to Valjean. He sends the cops away, and then lays the God smack-down on Valjean by blessing him and telling him that God gave him this sort of second life after prison for a reason. Valjean finally gets his head out of his ass and decides to turn his life around, riiiiight after he pretty much says, “Eff you!” to his parole and breaks it.

Flash forward 8 years, and ol’ Valjean is doing pretty well for himself: he is a respected businessman who owns some sort of factory or sweatshop or something, and Russell Crowe is the inspector who has been hunting him down ever since he broke his parole, because the French armed forces can apparently afford to have one of its inspectors devote his entire career to hunting down one man during a time of political upheaval and social unrest. Seriously. For the entire movie, which I think spans 18 or so years, Russell Crowe’s character stays in hot pursuit of Jean Valjean, even though there is so much more shit in France he could be working on. I feel like his character’s plot line is pretty much a 19th century version of The Fugitive with him as Tommy Lee Jones and Hugh Jackman as Harrison Ford. Anyway, Anne Hathaway plays Fantine, a worker in Valjean’s factory/sweatshop who is fired by the pervy foreman (unknowingly by Valjean) for having a daughter to whom she’s been sending money. Because that’s bad, apparently. So being fired from the only honest job around and needing to make a quick buck in order to take care of her child, Fantine ends up selling her hair, then her teeth, and finally her body. Valjean runs into her after she gets into a scuffle with some dude wanting to screw her, and she tells him that she was fired by his foreman and pretty much blames him for her current condition, which is that of a sick, jaded whore. Valjean takes pity on her and takes her to the hospital where he promises to care for her daughter, Cosette, before Fantine dies.

Flash forward a few more years, and Valjean and Cosette are living happily together as father and daughter despite having to be kind of secretive because, guess what? Yep, Russell Crowe is STILL HUNTING HIS ASS DOWN. They live in Paris, and Cosette ends up falling in love with a man who is in the movement positioned to revolt against the French government (Marius). However, this girl Éponine also loves the man, and we get a good performance of “On My Own,” a song about unrequited love:

I feel ya, boo. Have so been there before. So there’s this love triangle, which ends up being destroyed because Éponine eventually dies in the final battle of the movie. Valjean intercepts one of the notes Cosette and Marius exchange, and is all, “No dicks for my daughter” and decides to go to where the movement is barricaded off and investigate him. Because there is no better time than an impending revolt to see just who the hell this guy thinks he is, trying to marry someone’s daughter. But seeing that Marius isn’t half bad, he decides to stay and fight in the final battle, eventually rescuing Marius from certain death, ensuring that they are the only two survivors. Cosette and Marius get married, Valjean goes off to a convent to die, and Anne Hathaway reappears as Fantine’s ghost to sing Valjean into the great beyond and make me bawl like a baby. Seriously, I was like this pretty much during all of Anne Hathaway’s scenes:

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Damn you, Anne Hathaway. Oh, yeah, and Russell Crowe’s character ends up committing suicide, and I think it’s because he grew soft when Valjean was in a position to kill him and didn’t, and he, in turn, didn’t kill Valjean when he had the chance. So I think he killed himself because he felt like he failed as an inspector? I’m not entirely sure, but I do think it was a bit melodramatic. Get on another assignment, boo. Redeem yourself. No need to commit suicide.

And THAT is Les Misèrables. I liked it. I also learned two things:

1. That living between 1815-1833 in France sucked ass, and

2. Hugh Jackman is a badass. In the movie, he hoists a damn FLAGPOLE (which is huge and made of wood) all by his lonesome, and later on, he hoists a wagon off a guy all by himself. Badass.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Bo Plumer says:

    Very solid review. I really enjoyed the movie plus the innovative way the songs were recorded (all the singing was done on camera not dubbed in later from a sound studio) As to Javert’s suicide I always thought it was not motivated by his viewing himself as a failure, but the only way for a character as wholly devoted to duty and justice to show mercy to someone his code tells him to arrest. Basically he realizes that he’ll never stop hunting Valjean as long as he’s alive so kills himself to spare the convict. I always thought it was a very beautiful gesture from a man who cannot believe in the ability of a person to change, yet somehow knows it when he sees it.

    Like

    1. sarahvb2 says:

      That makes a lot more sense than him feeling like a failure. And in that context, it is a really beautiful gesture. As I was watching the film, I was wondering if the songs were all sung on screen, because they sounded a bit raw (in a good way) to have been done beforehand. So bravo to the actors. I also read in an interview that the scene in which Fantine gets her hair cut was also done on camera–they were really cutting off Anne Hathaway’s hair in that scene, which made it more powerful, I think. I really enjoyed the movie, and now I want to read the book.

      Like

  2. alishatalley says:

    Was her “On My Own” better than our dear Joey Potter’s rendition? I mean, she ALMOST won with that performance.

    Like

    1. sarahvb2 says:

      THAT’S where I heard that song before!

      Like

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