Les Miserables


nce in a while, a film comes around that unearths an emotion within us that, until then, remained buried in bottomless soils. It embodies unrequited love, confessions of a naïve heart, bloodshed of the innocent, and laughter of the broken; devoutly pulling and tugging at our souls and gently at our hearts. Today, that film is director Tom Hooper’s “Les Miserables.”

Set during the 19th century, the British musical drama film follows Jean ValJean, a former convict turned mayor who, through unrelenting misfortune and seemingly chance encounters, finds the meaning of his life within a child named Cosette. A test of forgiveness and redemption, the story echoes Alexandre Dumas’ “The Count of Monte Cristo.” The first film adaption of Victor Hugo’s 1862 French novel and the longest running musical by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg, “Les Miserables” remains as authentic as its predecessors with  elaborately intricate sets and authentic wardrobe.

What gives this film its spirit is the live set. Delivered by a commanding cast, led by Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, and Russell Crowe, the film prides itself on its lack of lip syncing, making emotions unscripted and notes unwritten. With a whopping 49 songs, Les Miserables does not fail in capturing every emotion of the human psyche.

Viewers will grip their seats, their palms sweaty with avidity as young Marius (Eddie Redmayne) and his French Revolutionist peers ready their guns and tighten their boot straps while chanting “Red, the blood of angry men! Black, the dark of ages past! Red, a world about to dawn! Black, the night that ends at last!”

However it remains a unanimous agreement that the most breathtaking moment of the film is Anne Hathaway’s solo “I dreamed a dream.” Hathaway plays Fantine, a woman who reluctantly prostitutes herself for the wellbeing of her daughter. Fantine is a consequence of the vast commodification of women in the 19th century. The generous amount of emotion that is witnessed here can scarcely be matched by any existing solo today.

There aren’t many timeless things in life and so when we are lucky enough to discover one, we should cherish it. And so our generation, as have many before us, can now cherish a timeless story that in some fashion, we all share.