Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

December 31, 2012

‘Les Miserables’ among cinema’s best in 2012

Movie Review

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Democrat

Pauls Valley, Oklahoma — Since the Mayan Apocalypse seems to have been taken as seriously as a New York Times Film Critic, I’ve decided to once again return you as the year was meant to end, with one more bit of wisdom bestowed upon a highly anticipated flick. And why not ring in 2013 by giving something you will be able to share with your friends, a moving story with no less than an “Avenger” like quality of ensemble chemistry.

This could have been far from the case as there is no guarantee of a powerful translation from something highly successful on stage to motion picture, but somehow the spark has carried over. A hope in the beginning that one of my favorite musical moments would be just as magical as before has not been a wish wasted in vain and has even felt in some ways like taking the trip for the first time all over again. While I certainly have bestowed praise for other works of the silver screen in 2012, “Les Miserables” raises above almost the rest, to at least be deserving of one of the best.

For those who aren’t as familiar with the tale or seen it three times in live theater, it is set in 1815 France, when life pretty much sucks for the vast majority under the foot of the royal or super rich foot. We are quickly introduced to a prisoner of 19-years, Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), who after doing his time is released from under the stern custody of prison guard Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe).

After being reminded of how important it is to be a good boy, he pretty much gets put into his miserable place of surviving with the rest of the poor until he is taken in by the  Bishop of Digne (Colm Wilkinson). His kindness knows no bounds and despite a chance to send Valjean back to prison when he is caught steeling the religious man’s silver, lets him keep it in hopes of a more virtuous future. Though it ends up causing some trouble with the former guard down the line, Valjean takes this lesson to heart and breaks parole to become a new man.

From this point on we cannot help except get caught up in the emotion of Valjean’s life as he walks the line of being discovered for his past, but does great things like help make up for a wrong to a woman he knew named Fantine (Anne Hathaway) by rescuing from filth her child Cosette (Isabelle Allen, Amanda Seyfried). Even though we see many years pass before it is over, those used to these types of epics will not be disappointed from the terrible suffering overcome to song sung so well they cannot help but reach one’s own soul.

This film deserves every nomination and award it receives, and a shame Hathaway and Jackman can’t also share potential Oscar gold of carrying the story with others like Sacha Baron Cohen  who has audiences rolling in laugher from his brilliant portrayal of a slimy innkeeper named Thénardier. I will not only watch it again upon my next opportunity, but own it and recommend it as one to see as soon as possible. As a result, I’m more than glad to bestow “Les Miserables” with five out of five revolutions.