This is one of the most gritty, dirty, depressing movies ever made, but it speaks to so much redemption and grace. It is a must see! But more on that in a minute.
Emotional -- that is what I was throughout the entire movie. I mean, there were times that I aws actually sobbing! There has only been one other time that a movie has moved me to the tears I shed and left me shaken afterward -- OF MICE AND MEN with Gary Sinise and John Malkovich. My poor friend, Denise, had to drive me around town afterward so I could get myself together.
Tonight, a sit in the movie theater chair and a visit to the restroom afterward got me together. OrangeLeaf helped a little too.
One of the movie's best features -- and the one that is the most controversial among critics -- is the fact that the director, Tom Hooper, made the intentional decisions to have the actors sing the musical productions live. THE. BEST. DECISION. EVER. MADE. I maintain, flat, sharp, pitchy, whatever, I could feel the actors' emotions through the film. And when I say feel, I mean FEEL. As Fantine's hair was being taken off of her head ... as she was being violated by the ship's captain ... I could feel her pain much more through her shaky, emotional rendition of ON MY OWN than I ever felt it when I saw the Broadway version, and I thought that rocked my world way back then.
There were numerous scenes that rocked me today, but one that really made me step back, internally gasp, and then hang in mid-air was Valjean's Soliloquy. He has just been pardoned, but has been marked for life as a dangerous criminal, and the only one who shows him any sort of kindness is the Bishop (played by Colm Wilkinson! How amazing!). As Valjean stands in the chapel, he sings these words, and it was breathtaking to see the raw emotion on Hugh Jackman's face (he took it a few steps past amazing in this performance!). I was moved by the amount of grace given him, and the redemption he sought while working through his hatred of Jalvert.
It was beyond amazing. And it reminded me of the grace God grants me each and every day....it makes me wonder if Victor Hugo had any intimate understanding of the God I know ... redemption despite the ugliest of life decisions runs strong in this movie, and it's what really made it resonate with me.
And Valjean's constant is Sweet Jesus, and the rest He provides in his life as he attempts to live the life he believes he some how doesn't deserve.
The closing portion of the movie, with Jean Valjean near death, sitting in the chapel of the monastery, he prays to the Lord on High to hear his prayer, and grant Cosette and Marius grace and peace. I was almost inconsolable! What a picture of beauty and grace as he begs to be brought home, but petitions for the lives of others. Wow!
"Come with me, where chains will never bind you ... Lord in heaven, look down upon him .... to love another person is to see the face of God ... do you here the people singing?"