I am not crazy about musicals, but I always try to see all the Academy Award nominated movies before the big bash. With time running out (and my wife’s birthday to boot), I manned up to go see Les Miserables.
Les Miserable, which is based on the hit Broadway show from 1987, is every bit the epic that it is has been touted. The time period is early nineteenth century, revolutionary pre-disposed France and the protagonist is a man by the name of Valjean (Hugh Jackman). Valjean is a decent man who has been imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister’s family and has spent nineteen years of hard labor under the watchful eye of police officer Javert (Russell Crowe). After doing his time, Valjean is released and becomes the mayor and a factory owner of a small town (no explanation of how this happens; I just wish it could happen to me), but in the process he has broken his parole requirements by not checking in. For some reason Javert has made it his life mission to track down Valjean, who always seems to be just one step ahead; and the cat and mouse game between the two is at the core of the plot.
The side story is Valjean’s relationship with his ill-fated employee Fantine (Anne Hathaway) and her daughter Cosette (Amanda Seyfried), who Valjean has promised to protect while dodging the ubiquitous Javert. When Paris gets ready to erupt into violence in 1832, Cosette falls in love with a young revolutionary by the name of Marius (Eddie Redmayne) and Valjean has some serious decisions to make.
Most of us know this allegory of forgiveness and redemption based on Victor Hugo’s novel, but I had a few problems with the movie. While I was watching the film in the theater I kept grasping at my remote control in order to put on the closed-captioning. Although most of singing was outstanding and well enunciated, there were portions of it that I could not understand. I don’t know if it is just me, but I really like to understand everything that is being said (or sung); not just some of it. The other thing was the length of the movie. I really don’t know how you can shorten a movie like this, but I kept trying to hit the pause button on the remote to take a bathroom break. I guess what I am saying is that I would have rather watched a movie like this at home: there really are no special effects that warrant the big screen. With that being said, the movie and music is worthy of the eight Academy Award nomination that it has received. Just be ready for a long haul.
Reviewer’s Note: Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter put in delightful performances as the raucous innkeepers.
My Rating: 4 out of 5 Revolutions.