Les Miserables (2012) Film Review

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“Mine is the way of the Lord.”

The aforementioned quotation is one of the many lines of Javert, the pure antagonist the controversial film, Les Miserables (2012), written by Victor Hugo and directed by Tom Hooper. Set in post-revolutionary France, it brings light to the injustice in society and how love and compassion can change even the heart hardened by grief and cruelty. Thus, this review will focus on Javert, who could only see the world in black and white, but when faced with the mercy that Valjean presented him, got lost in his doubt.

The film revolves primarily around a released prisoner named Jean Valjean and his path to redemption. He took on pseudonyms and even became the guardian of one child named Cosette after her mother’s death. However, his former prison guard, Javert, who had become a police inspector, stayed hot on his trails, relentlessly pursuing him to bring him back safely… behind bars.

However, although the movie presents Javert as the antagonist of the story, he is not as bad of a man as he seems to be. When you stop to think about it, why would he be chasing after Jean Valjean? It’s because Jean Valjean has broken his parole and even though he was imprisoned for being a good man to his sister and nephew, Javert, saw this as a violation against the law because in his mind, a man is guilty when the law declares him to be so. No questions asked, because that is what he believes. Even if this belief and determination of his to enforce what he believes, is right, it’s a shame that this has been misdirected. He is so obsessed in enforcing the law that he fails to see beyond the surface of the law. Javert remained oblivious to the society suffering from its law which should have been protecting it instead. So when he was saved by Jean Valjean from being shot to death by the students in the uprising, he mocked the man, believing that he should have died because he had lost, Valjean had won, and punishment should be delivered accordingly. This is the first seed of doubt. Javert began to doubt his belief because why would a bad man, who deserved to be in prison for breaking the law, save another person’s life, much less, his enemy’s life? Wouldn’t that make that person a good man? Good men don’t belong in prison so does Jean Valjean deserve to be in prison or not after saving Javert’s life? The second seed of doubt ended it all when Javert let Valjean escape him despite having the overwhelming advantage of having a weapon and Valjean being in a disadvantage, having Marius as a dead weight for him. He let him escape because if he captured Valjean, then he would be capturing his savior, a good man who didn’t deserve to be in prison. This is where Valjean proved to him that a man isn’t necessarily evil just because the law says he is. And this is where Javert ended his life because he couldn’t, and wouldn’t accept the new knowledge and connect it with his beliefs. He couldn’t accept the notion that a man could change for the better, that the world isn’t in black and white.

The movie didn’t fail to capture the attention of its overseers with its attention-grabbing musical play. The characters singing out their lines both served as music to the ears and eyes as some might find themselves singing along to the tunes of the songs. It also brings light to how the French society was back then, how its system appeared to bring more misfortune and injustice to the society instead of rectifying it and making it better for the people. This motivates you to become a better person, to analyse what is truly right and wrong and not to be like Javert who was obsessed with the laws, to the point that he seemed like an animal, never thinking, only acting. The actors and actresses portrayed their roles unbelievably well, to the point that one would not be able to see between the lines of reality and acting, delivering the emotions that they wanted their overseers to feel brilliantly. Les Miserables has placed its roots in my heart and I fear that it will not let go for a long time. It is a film that must be watched, to see Valjean finally find peace, and Javert, realize his flaw.


write by Lucasta

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