“Les Miserables” returns to the big screen with a bang

The must see movie of the year, “Les Miserables” is a story of love, passion, courage, sacrifice, redemption and forgiveness. Overall, the movie’s theme is the survival of human spirit and is based of the book of the same name. The novel is a French historical story written by Victor Hugo, first published in 1862.  The book was then turned into a musical.  This movie is actually a remake of a 1998 version that starred Liam Neeson.

The story begins in 1815, when convict Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) is released on parole by prison guard Javert (Russell Crowe) after serving a 19 year sentence for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving relatives.  Once out of prison Valjean is offered food and shelter by the Bishop of Digne (Colm Wilkinson), but steals the bishops silver during the night. He is caught by the authorities, but the Bishop lies and tells the authorities that the silver was given as a gift and insures Valjean’s release. Touched by the Bishop’s love, grace and generosity, Valjean breaks his parole and vows to start an honest life under a new identity. However, Javert the one who released him from his jail cell swears he will bring the escaped convict to justice.
Years later, Valjean has become a factory owner and mayor of a small town.  Even so, has not yet escaped Javert. Javert is posted in Valjean’s town as an officer of the local law enforcement. However, at this point he does not recognize the mayor’s identity.

In the mayor’s(Valjean’s) factory Fantine (Anne Hathaway), one of his workers, is discovered to be sending money to her illegitimate daughter, Cosette (Amanda Seyfried), who lives with the unscrupulous Thenardiers (Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter) and their daughter Eponine (Samantha Barks). Once she is discovered her co-workers force her out on the street. Out of a job, Fantine does whatever she can for her daughter.  At one point in the movie Fantine is dragged into an argument with a man on the street and is arrested by Javert.  But the mayor intervenes and takes Fantine to hospital as she is sick.

As Fantine is on her deathbed, the mayor (Valjean) promises he will care for her daughter. This is not long after Javert discovered the mayor is the prisoner who broke his parole long ago.  Once Valjean finds Cosette he disappears to avoid arrest, or worse. Over the years, Javert continues to pursue Valjean and Cosette.  Each time Javert loses the both of them he learns from his mistakes and becomes smarter and wittier.

Throughout the movie you witness triumph, failure, death and victory.  Such as when Fantine dies in Valjean’s arms.  In some parts of the movie you want to bawl your eyes out, but in other parts you cannot help but laugh. This movie also takes from many movie genres: action, adventure, romance, and possibly it can also be considered a thriller.

As the movie was a musical, there was not much dialogue at all, and since the actors were far from professional singers, it was a little pitchy in some parts.  Especially the songs performed by Russell Crowe.  Hugh Jackman, the main character who portrayed Valjean, was better then Crowe, but he was still lacking pitch in his musical numbers. As the main character, Jackman sang almost every song, but I wish it would have been less. However, there were many cast members, such as Hathaway, who were wonderful. However, she was not in the movie very long. The acting also showed lots of emotion and, at times, made me want to cry.

Apart from the singing from the two main characters I would give this movie a solid A-. Overall, the movie had excellent cinematography and acting.  The movie is rated PG-13 for the following suggestive and sexual material, violence and thematic elements.