Could you build a new life with mistakes of your past haunting you? What if you had to do it more than once? Everyone has a breaking point. What if you reached yours and had further to go?
Jean Valjean (portrayed by Hugh Jackman) stole bread to feed his starving family and, while serving his sentence, tried to escape. So, nineteen years after his initial incarceration, a guard known simply as Javert informs him that he is free to go. Javert (played by Russell Crowe) believes that Valjean (Jackman) is a born criminal and that he will return to jail eventually. After spending almost twenty years in prison, Valjean is unable to find work and resorts to sleeping on the street. He is taken in by a bishop and spends a night in a church. He steals the church’s silver in the night and is arrested but the bishop lies to the authorities, claiming the silver was a gift, thereby facilitating Valjean’s release. Valjean breaks parole and is reborn as an honest man but Javert vows to find and arrest him. Eight years after the bishop’s kind act, Jean has become a factory owner and the mayor of a small town. One of his workers, Fantine (portrayed by Anne Hathaway), is exposed as an unwed mother and fired by her lecherous foreman. Fantine (Hathaway), with no other options, resorts to prostitution to support herself and send whatever she has left to her daughter Cosette. Seen arguing with a customer by the rigidly moral Javert, who is now police inspector, Fantine seems destined for imprisonment. Luckily, Valjean intervenes and brings Fantine to a hospital. Despite initial suspicions that the mayor is Valjean, Javert arrests another man he believes to be Valjean and offers the mayor his resignation. Valjean declines, exonerates the man believed to be him and goes on the run. Rather than concerning himself solely with his own freedom, Valjean seeks out the daughter of the now-deceased Fantine who is being “cared for” by a pair of unscrupulous innkeepers. Those innkeepers (portrayed by Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter) extort a large sum of money before allowing Valjean to leave with Cosette and then inform the police who are hot on his trail. Nine years later, Cosette (who has, of course, grown and is now portrayed by Amanda Seyfried) is still being cared for by Valjean and, after a chance encounter with a revolutionary, falls in love instantly. That revolutionary (Marius, portrayed by Eddie Redmayne) is the object of a one-sided crush by the daughter of Cosette’s former caretakers. Her name is Eponine (played by Samantha Barks) and while she has little or no interest in politics, she joins Marius’s revolution almost immediately.
I can go either way where musicals are concerned. I couldn’t stand Chicago, but I loved Dreamgirls and eventually bought it on DVD. Also, while I’d heard of it before and knew it was a musical, my first introduction to the story of Les Miserables was a film starring Liam Neeson and Geoffrey Rush which altered the original story and abandoned the musical aspect. I really liked this film. All the actors in this film, to varying degrees, are competent singers. In fact, Anne Hathaway was shockingly good. What I liked better about the Liam Neeson film is that it supplied explanations. Even so, if you can appreciate musicals, you should see Les Miserables.