By now if you have any interest in the new movie version of the musical Les Miserables, you’ve read a bunch of reviews already on much more legitimate websites than this one. And you’ve probably seen it for yourself already. So I really have no idea why you’d want to read another review, and yet, I feel compelled to write one. It’s not so much a review as it is my spontaneous thoughts on the movie.
First of all, you have to understand my relationship with Les Miserables. My parents took us to see a touring production of the stage musical when I was nine. That production was what made me fall in love with musicals. I was crushing on them pretty hard after seeing Cats the year before. But Cats just had a lot of awesome dancing and some catchy music. What little storyline there is, eight-year-old me didn’t understand at all. Les Mis is a whole other thing. It’s about love and (in)justice and social issues… I think my weakness for revolutionaries probably started with Enjolras. Twenty-three years later, minute details of the staging are still etched in my brain—it made that much of an impression.
Second of all, you have to understand how long I’ve been waiting for this. When I saw the musical in February of 1990 there was a blurb in the program announcing that in 1992 “She’s coming to the cinema”. It stated that a film version of the musical was in the works. Before anyone asks, no, I’m not talking about the 1998 non-musical film. In fact, when that one came out, I read an article about it stating that the movie version of the musical was still “waiting in the wings.” So for me this movie is over twenty years late.
Les Mis is simultaneously my first love and an old friend. I’m sure there was a lot of it nine year-old me didn’t get at all. Over the years, listening to the sound track over and over, I still notice new little things. Not things I was unaware of before, but I will suddenly notice how awesome something is. I know the show isn’t perfect, but I don’t want to think about its flaws. I’m blinded by love and nostalgia.
I’m aware enough of the power of that nostalgia that I was a little wary going into the film. As excited as I was, I knew I was going to have to let go of a lot. There would have been no point in making this big budget movie if it was just a video of the stage production. And while I would love to be able to watch the stage production any time I want, I didn’t honestly want the movie to be that. A quick glance at the running time reveals that a lot has been cut. And while I totally understand why that was necessary, the part of me that has listened to the three-CD soundtrack over and over didn’t want anything to be cut. Because every second is so amazing, how could you cut any of it? On the other hand, I was super excited about the cast, and forced myself to be open-minded about everything else.
The verdict: I love it.
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