In revolutionary France, a prisoner breaks parole and agrees to care
for a dying woman's daughter, changing many lives in the process.
Les Misérables (2012)
Directed by Tom Hooper
Written by William Nicholson, Alain Boublil,
Claude-Michel Schönberg, Herbert Kretzmer
Starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter, Aaron Tveit, Samantha Barks, Daniel Huttlestone
Based on the novel by Victor Hugo and the stage musical
by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil
Oscar Wins - Best Supporting Actress (Anne Hathaway),
Best Makeup, Best Sound Mixing
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Actor (Hugh Jackman),
Best Costume Design, Best Production Design,
Best Original Song (Suddenly)
Les Mis might be the definitive musical. It's been around for over a hundred and fifty years as a novel, and forty years as a stage musical. It's been adapted to film dozens of times, but never quite as successfully as the 2012 adaptation by Tom Hooper, which grossed $441 million and was nominated for eight Oscars, winning three. It's a story I was fairly unfamiliar with prior to watching. I knew the name Jean Valjean, and I knew the song "I Dreamed a Dream." Beyond that, nothing. I must say this film was daunting, but worth the journey. The performances are incredible, the production design is stunning, and the tale of redemption through good deeds is inspiring.
Jackman excels as Jean Valjean, a man who is imprisoned for 20 years for stealing bread, set free by the incorruptible servant of the law Javert (Crowe), and hunted by him for decades after he breaks parole. But Valjean escapes and reinvents himself to be a rich industrialist, only to be responsible for the innocent Fantine (Hathaway) to die. Valjean swears to do right by Fantine's daughter Cosette (Seyfried), who he raises as his own. Around here, we leave Valjean's story a bit to focus on the budding revolution in Paris, where the noble Marius (Redmayne) is leading a scrappy band of rebels. Marius falls for Cosette, Valjean sees him as a good man, and the stories intersect, with Javert hunting Valjean down the entire time. It's a damn good yarn with a satisfying conclusion.
Les Mis is a story that would influence so much of modern pop culture, particularly stories of revenge and redemption. It's a film every story seeker should watch if only to know the story, but the film also made me want to seek out Victor Hugo's novel and give it a read. This is a fine musical directed by the guy who would later ruin his career with Cats. I guess you can't win them all.