Thursday, December 27, 2012
I'll give you the bad first because there are a few minor weaknesses. Hugo Jackman has a good voice but not a great one, and this is one role where strength is required. He might have to speak-sing some of his music, but he does a pretty good job with the role so it isn't really a negative. And for those of you who don't like long movies, this will not be your cup of tea at over two and a half hours. But the violence is at a minimum considering the time period, the character are engaging and the story flows so you probably won't notice the length.
In case you don't know, Les Misérables is the movie musical version of the long-running, highly acclaimed London/Broadway show about a small part of the French Revolution known as the June Uprising in 1832. The original story comes from a novel by Victor Hugo and is about Jean Valjean, a French convict who has been paroled after serving nineteen years in prison for stealing bread to feed his starving family.
However, parole in revolutionary France doesn't necessarily mean freedom; it means he is required by law to show papers everywhere he goes and because of them nobody will hire him or give food or a bed. When he tries to steal silver from a Catholic bishop who has kindly provided a place to sleep, he is caught. Instead of sending him to jail, the clergyman lies and pardons him, then gives him the silver as a gift and tells Valjean to use it to become an honest man.
Valjean decides to break his parole to restart his life and is always one step ahead of Inspector Javert, the lawman who is fanatical about apprehending him because of the parole violation. He extends mercy to those who are hopeless and helpless more than once to repay his debt to God, sometimes putting his own life in danger. He also raises a small orphan girl, Cosette, who surely would have died without him, as his daughter. The June Uprising, a student rebellion, serves as a historically accurate backdrop to the love story between Cosette and one of the students, Marius. In the end, Valjean proves that he, a common criminal, is a better man than Javert, the rigid upholder of the law.
The story is beautiful and rich, the acting is Oscar-caliber (Anne Hathaway rightly deserves an Academy Award nomination as Fantine, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed for Eddie Redmayne as Marius and Samantha Banks as the tragic Éponine.) It has already won for Movie of the Year and Best Acting Assembly in several Film Critics award ceremonies and has been nominated for Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild awards.
I'm not going to tell you about the rest of Les Misérables because I don't want to give it all away, but there's a lot that goes on around the major plot you really need to see for yourself. I'm just here to urge you, Do Not Miss This Movie. Run quickly to your nearest theater.
Why are you still sitting there?