2012 was probably one of the first times when two famous novels were translated onto film – Anna Karenina and Les Miserables. Both of these novels surpass storytelling at it’s greatest, compelling readers for decades to rack their imagination to experience the tragic history. As far as literature goes, these two stand their grounds as master pieces that give a glimpse of what has happened in the past of human kind – which is exactly why I was anxious and excited to watch these epic films. Anna Karenina was a disappointment, to say the least, while LeMiz was exactly the other extreme – overwhelming.
It is the grit, grime, corruption, poverty and tragedy of France during it’s dark time back in the 1930s. The plot focuses on a ex-convict Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) who is just released from prison after serving 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread. The injustice of the government and it’s laws are evident from the very beginning, as Valjean begins his journey of redemption for a minor crime. After a series of events, he decides to reinvent himself and begin an honest life – one which he is completely successful in achieving.
Along his journey, he meets Fantine (Anne Hathaway), who is a single mother desperately making ends meet to support her daughter Cosette. While her daughter lives with another family in a distant town, Fantine looks for odd jobs in the city to make money – including selling her hair and her teeth. As her circumstances leave her in desperate need of money, Fantine is forced into prostitution. At this point, her soul is numb to the world as she has no desire other than to have a better life for her daughter. When Valjean meets her, she is on the verge of death and he makes her a promise to look after Cosette.
The rest of the plot follows how Valjean finds Cosette, takes her in – however, there are greater troubles brewing as Valjean’s parole officer realizes his true identity as an ex-convict and the ultimate chase begins. Javert (Russel Crowe), the police officer, becomes obsessed with capturing Valjean and the chase continues over decades. Ultimately, it is all the singing juxtaposed with the tragic setting in France that makes this film one-of-a-kind. The psychology of Javert and Valjean is impeccably captured by both actors, making the depiction excellent and worth watching. Yes – the film is overwhelming if you aren’t prepared for all the singing, however the tragedy and injustice brings in the elements of reality and it’s disappointments.
I would definitely recommend this film to people who like watching literary productions, however it is not a movie for those seeking a light-hearted relaxing experience. My score for this film is definitely 7/10.