Les Miserables, the movie

by julie swanson

I don’t usually like musicals–the only ones I’ve ever really enjoyed are The Sound of Music and Mama Mia–but I’d heard Les Miserables was good so I was willing to give it a chance. Yesterday I finally found someone willing to go with me and I was excited about it (Steve’s been dragging his feet on this one for some reason: I think because he’d heard it was sad, and because he doesn’t seem to be big on musicals either). But then we got in the theatre and the movie started and there was that first scene with the men down in the water tugging on the thick ropes–singing!–and I thought, Oh, no, I don’t think I’m going to be able to get through this. 

I didn’t even want to look over at my 15-year-old son S who I’d somehow gotten to go along with me, because I was sure he was thinking the same thing and didn’t want to meet his glare of, What did you get me into? So I just stared straight ahead and tried to pretend I was into it.

And, you know what? Pretty soon I was. At some point it was like I forgot they were singing, or maybe it was more that I knew I had to pay attention to the singing–that it wasn’t something superfluous but that the words of the songs were critical to my understanding of what was going on. And before I knew it, I wasn’t just listening intently to the singing, I was enjoying it, marveling at how well the characters could sing, admiring the very real emotion they were able to put into it. Who knew Russell Crowe could sing?

So many actors/characters were good, Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, the comical couple, the little boy, little Cosette and big Cosette, and the young man who falls in love with Cosette, Ebony…

My son was quite sick this week  (perhaps this was why he was willing to go with his mother to a movie like Les Miserables; anything to get out the house after 6 days) and is getting over a bad cough, so we sat in a top corner, where his occasional hacking wouldn’t bother people as much. I needn’t have worried; instead of coughing, I cried. I didn’t look over to see if S was crying because I didn’t want to embarrass him, but I did hear him sniffle a few times. It was, as I discussed in a previous blog post about why people enjoy movies or books that make them cry, not so much that it was always sad in a bad/negative way. Just as often I felt sad in the good way of having been touched, when your tears are about  your heart strings getting plucked or your heart swelling with a great feeling of love, inspired by un-selfish and altruistic love shown in the movie.

As we sat there in the dark with the credits rolling, I asked S how he liked the movie. I expected him to shrug, which I’d interpret as, “I liked it but I don’t want to admit how much.” But instead he simply said he liked it, that it was good, which to me meant he really liked it, possibly even as much as I had.

I give it a 5 out of 5.

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