Les Misérables (2012)

Film reviews are subjective. I tend to rate films not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Les Misérables (2012)
Rated PG-13. Drama, Musical, Romance, War/Epic
3 Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actress

Description (from the film case): Set against the backdrop of 19th Century France, Les Misérables tells the story of ex-prisoner Jean Valjean [Hugh Jackman], hunted for decades by the ruthless policeman Javert [Russell Crowe], after he breaks parole. When Valjean agrees to care for factory worker Fantine’s [Anne Hathaway] young daughter, Cosette, their lives change forever.

My thoughts: “Fight. Dream. Hope. Love.” Yes, exactly–ditto to what the film’s tagline says.

Les Misérables is a wonderful achievement and the film that solidified Hathaway’s spot on my favorite actresses list. When she, an agonized Fantine, sings “I Dreamed a Dream,” oh, it isn’t just the way she sings it but how she is right afterward: drained, silent, blank, as if she hasn’t (or has?) just wailed her whole tortured soul out to a world that can’t hear her. There’s pretty much no way she wouldn’t have won an Oscar for that role. And Jackman is absolutely amazing as Valjean, both in his fierce moments and in his quiet ones. I hear tell Jackman even fasted from water to give wandering, weary Valjean’s skin its wasted look toward the beginning of the film. (Nope, it isn’t just a film makeup job making Valjean look like that.)

This is the only movie I’ve ever gone out to see as soon as it released, and if I could’ve stood up to sing along during “Red and Black” and “Do You Hear the People Sing?” in the theater, I would have. (But, alas, the people sitting behind me might have had something to say about that, and I didn’t know the words to the songs yet, anyway.) The film also compelled me to finally get around to reading Victor Hugo’s classic novel. I’ve not finished it yet, as it’s an unabridged version and I’m reading it in between other books, but I’m instantly right “there” every time I pick it up, and I already suspect it will end up on my list of all-time favorite reads.