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Review: Les Misérables

From The Objective Standard, Vol. 8, No. 3.

Les Misérables, directed by Tom Hooper. Written by William Nicholson and Alain Boublil. Based on the stage musical by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg, in turn based on the 1862 novel by Victor Hugo. Starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, and Eddie Redmayne. Rated PG-13 for suggestive and sexual material, violence, and thematic elements. Running Time: 158 minutes.

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Les Misérables, the recent film adaptation of the beloved musical based on Victor Hugo’s epic novel, carries viewers through a sweeping tale of revolution, romance, and redemption. Set in 19th-century France, the film captures the drama and hardship of life during a time of revolutionary turmoil while providing a testament to the inner hero of man and his capacity to live as an embodiment of his values.

The film opens with the release of ex-convict Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) on parole from a nineteen-year prison sentence he suffered for stealing a loaf of bread and repeatedly attempting to escape. Valjean attempts to resume a normal life under the watchful eye of his nemesis, the rigid Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe). Valjean soon realizes that the only way he can be truly free is to violate his parole, disappear, assume a new identity, and begin his life anew.

In fleeing his parole, Valjean infuriates Inspector Javert, who vows never to rest until he has captured Valjean and administered “justice.” From this point on, Javert’s pursuit of Valjean dominates much of the story; however, numerous other story lines develop as well, the most important involving Valjean’s adoption of Cosette (Amanda Seyfried). Cosette’s mother, Fantine (Anne Hathaway), is thrown into abject poverty when a foreman at Valjean’s factory unjustly terminates her employment. Eventually Valjean learns of Fantine’s plight and vows to care for Cosette, whom he showers with love. . . .

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