We went to see Les Miserables last weekend. It's definitely a sweeping saga filled with so much sadness and despair, but also a message of redemption. I loved the message that you can choose to change your life. You can do things differently. I think too many people believe they are powerless to change their lives. but I don;t think that's true. We may not be able to control things around us, but we can control our reactions and our thoughts.And we can make choices that affect people in positive ways.
Jean Valjean was thrown into prison for stealing some bread to feed a hungry child. He spent 20 years in prison and he was mistreated. (When the movie started, I didn't even recognize Hugh Jackman). After he is released he tries to find some work and a place to live but is constantly rejected. Finally, a priest invites him in and gives him food and a place to sleep. Valjean repays this kindness by stealing form the priest. When Valjean is caught and returned to the priest and accused of stealing, the priest has a choice. He chooses to forgive and give Valjean another chance. Because of the priest's mercy, Valjean decides to change his life and he spends the rest of the story trying to do the right thing and extend mercy himself.
Valjean's story is poetic and haunting but at the end he finds redemption because he has turned his life over to God. Jackman was amazing in this role. He was Valjean in every sense of the word. His performance was moving and authentic.
Fantine's story is so sad and full of despair. Every time that Anne Hathaway was on screen I was crying. I had no idea she had such a beautiful voice and she was superb in this role. Her emotions felt so real. But still such a tragic story.
Javert was driven by duty. He hunted Valjean all of his life because he felt it was the right thing to do. He was a very tragic character as well because at the end of the story he felt like a failure. Russel Crowe did an excellent job of portraying Javert. He was raw and full of emotion.
Cosette's story was both tragic and happy, while Eponine's story was tragic but also redemptive. Despite her horrendous parents, Eponine was selfless and truly wanted Marius's happiness. She could see beyond her own needs.
The Thenardiers--totally disgusting. Gross, crass, and every time they appeared on screen I wanted to scream. I found nothing redeeming about them at all. And I strongly disliked the whole "Master of the House" scene. There were raunchy parts that didn't need to be there. It definitely could've been cut down by 2/3. I understand they provided the contrast to the main story, but I could've gotten the gist of that in much less time. The actors portrayed their parts well, I just didn't like their parts at all.
I found the boys who wanted a revolution heroic, yet tragic. It was sad to see their demise, but they died for what they believed in.
The film was epic. The live singing was amazing. I thin it was aptly named Les Miserables because, well, most of the characters were miserable. They lived tragic, dark lives. I loved that because of the priest's mercy, Valjean made the choice to change his life and I think we can all learn something form that. Whether we are the ones who extend that mercy to someone else or we are the ones who need that mercy, we can make our lives better. We do not have to let situations dictate our choices. We can be whomever we choose to be. It is within our power to choose good.