It was fantastic! It really follows the passion that life can possess and the endurance of the human spirit – both for good and for bad.
If you don’t know the story, Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) is enslaved (his punishment for stealing) and then released but violates his parole – he assumes a new identity and starts a new life as an honest man, but he is not free as he is hunted from that point on by Javert (Russell Crowe), the unwavering face of the law who has made it his personal vendetta to seek justice. Now we also have Fantine (Anne Hathaway), a mysterious factory worker who we discover from the other jealous co-workers, has a child, Cosette, whose father left and is being taken care of by an inn-keeper and his wife, although it is unbeknownst to Fantine that her Cosette is not treated very well. After it is revealed that Fontine has a child, illegitimately, she is kicked out of her job and forced into prostitution to provide money to the inn-keepers for Cosette. She falls ill and is discovered by Valjean who takes her to a hospital and promises to raise her child. All the while, Javert has discovered Valjean’s true identity and is determined to see justice served. Doesn’t happen. Valjean finds the innkeepers (TheThenardiers), who feign the role of caring parents and pays them to take the child and Valjean and young Cosette escape into hiding.
Much later, we see the grown Cosette, indeed under the (great) care of Valjean but living in secrecy as they are still hiding from Javert. We are now in the midst of the French Revolution and the young revolutionaries are out in full force, including Marius Pontmercy (Eddie Redmayne) who sees the grown Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) in town one day and falls in love immediately. Now in between the revolution, we also have a love story, a hopeless love and a secret (as Valjean’s true identity is unknown to Cosette).
I will leave it at that because I really don’t like spoiling the end of stories.
The music from the musical is fantastic and it was very well done in the movie. Who knew Russell Crowe could sing? Anne Hathaway, who lost 25 lbs. for her role as Fantine does an excellent job looking miserable, half dead and defeated. We, the audience, as we often do, find ourselves sympathizing with the underdog – having hope for true love, for true justice, not just the legal type, and believing in the goodness of humanity.