Oscar®Oscar® Winner for Best Actress in a supporting role, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Sound Mixing
NOMINEE FOR: Best Picture, Best Actor in a leading role, Best Costume Design, Best Production Design
Movie Review

Les Miserables “Les Misérables,” “Los Miserables,” “Os Miseráveis,” “A nyomorultak,” “Bidnici,” “Jadnici,” “Oi athlioi,” “Vargdieniai”

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for suggestive and sexual material, violence and thematic elements.

Reviewed by: David Criswell, Ph.D.
CONTRIBUTOR

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Music Epic Drama Adaptation
Length:
2 hr. 32 min.
Year of Release:
2012
USA Release:
December 25, 2012
DVD: March 22, 2013
Copyright, Universal Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Universal Pictures

orphans in the Bible

abused child

hunger / starvation

redemption

mourning

falling in love

TRUE LOVE—What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

beggar

girl disguised as boy

illegitimate child

robbery

wedding

brothel / prostitutes

SUICIDE—What does the Bible say? Answer

If a Christian commits suicide, will they go to Heaven? Answer

ghosts in the Bible

death

final judgment

Featuring: Hugh JackmanJean Valjean
Russell CroweJavert
Anne HathawayFantine
Amanda SeyfriedCosette
Sacha Baron CohenThénardier
Helena Bonham CarterMadame Thénardier
more »
Director: Tom Hooper—“The King's Speech,” John Adams (TV mini-series)
Producer: Working Title Films
Cameron Mackintosh Ltd.
more »
Distributor: Universal Pictures

“Fight. Dream. Hope. Love.”

Before seeing “Les Miserables,” it is important to understand the background, for a film cannot, and does not, provide much of the underlying roots to Victor Hugo’s classic novel that are necessary to understanding it in a true light. I will therefore ask the reader’s indulgence briefly.

Revisionist historians want to sugar coat the French Revolution while denigrating the puritan roots of our own nation, but the French Revolution failed. It ended in the “Reign of Terror,” anarchy, and the dictatorship of Napoleon. After Napoleon fell at Waterloo, the monarchy returned to France. Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables takes place in this period, and culminates with the failed “July Revolution” of 1830. The reader should also be aware that Victor Hugo was a strong supporter of Napoleon III during the “Second French Republic,” and so many consider that Les Miserables exaggerates the plight of the poor under the old French monarchy. Now, with this mind, let us look at the film.

Somewhere along the line, Broadway musicals decided that great works of literature could be turned into great musicals. “Les Miserables” is one of the most successful of those stage plays. In turning it into a movie, the limited sets of the stage are replaced with the spectacle and grandeur of France in the 1800s. However, it is only the underbelly of France to which we are given a glimpse. Jean Valjean is the central character, who was imprisoned for 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread. He is finally paroled and given a chance at a new life, but finds circumstances make it impossible for him to live, until a priest gives Valjean a chance. Valjean seizes the opportunity to make something of himself, but changes his name to escape the plague and restrictions of his parole. For this crime, he is hunted daily for almost twenty years by Javert, a police officer who considers his duty and honor one and the same, and refuses to look the other way, even when it conflicts with his conscience.

The story, as noted, takes place over a period of many years, and takes its finale from the failed “July Revolution.” I will not give away any spoilers, but the reader should be aware that this is a dark film. It is a film, like Hugo’s other stories, about the triumph of spirit over the darkness of the world, but it is also a film where God appears only in the shadows. Like the failed French Revolution, the world which Hugo depicts, is one in which God is not welcome. The redeeming figures in the film do pray to God, and it is priests and churchmen who often provide relief to Valjean when he needs it, but Javert is also seen praying, and asking for Valjean to be brought to justice. It seems that God is painted gray.

Artistically, the film is beautifully filmed and directed, and the acting is largely superb. I do, however, have problems with Sacha Baron Cohen’s depiction of Thénardier, the con artist and nemesis of Valjean. Anyone familiar with Cohen’s sense of humor knows that he relies on gross out humor and shock. He has taken that flair and invoked it Thénardier. To be sure, Thénardier is supposed to be a con and wretch, but the humor Cohen uses (for which the director can also be blamed) is over the top, and involves some very crude jokes which were not in the stage play, or book. This takes us to the film’s generous PG-13 rating.

We all know that the ratings system in Hollywood is messed up. It is for that very reason that sites like this one have grown. From a Christian perspective, this movie should clearly have been rated R. There are multiple sex scenes, one of which is very crude and played for “humor.” Additionally, there are some disgusting jokes and crude scenes which frankly cannot even be discussed here. One involves animal parts, and another involves human excrement. Next, there are several scenes where the characters utter cuss works which did not exist in the 1800s. Has Hollywood really become so debased they think that everyone talked like gutter rats of today? The words were not even invented back then. Finally, there is ample violence, particularly at the end of the film, when we literally see a pool of blood. Children are shot by the police, and dead bodies are strewn about. Some of this (particularly the violence) is an essential part of the story and film, but much of it is unnecessary and was not in the classic novel.

Finally, we come to the music, for this is a musical—as anyone familiar with “Les Miserables” knows. The songs are obviously classics. What not everyone may know is that the film is considered “revolutionary” in musical history because it uses a new technique for the actors” singing. They sing “live.” What does this mean? Simply put, traditional musicals record all the songs in studio and then have the actors lip-sink on set. The criticism of this is that it limits the acting of the stars. If an actor wishes to be melancholy, then he should not be singing as fast as a song might have been recorded. Now, for the first time, the actors sing “live” and the studio records the song later, to match their live singing. The result is obviously much better acting, for which the film has received praise, but it may hamper the music. This is, however, something I will leave for the music critics, for I found the songs as good as any sung by actors. Indeed, some were very good at singing.

My conclusion is that “Les Miserables” is a wonderful musical hampered by Hollywood’s excesses. Fans of the novel or musical will love the film, but others may be put off by the long run time and the dark nature of the story. Indeed, as a Christian, I recommend that the film be viewed as a look at the world of those who reject the Lord. It depicts the dark world which men make when God is scorned. Valjean finds a way out of this sewer by finding God. So can we all, through Jesus.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Heavy

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—I recommend this movie, but it is NOT FOR CHILDREN! For any that are familiar with the stage show, this is grittier than that. The singing is fairly good (some are better than others), and some of the music changes are weird, if you’re expecting a replica of the stage show, but the acting is superb, and I wept many times. The film uses a lot of closeups, which may irritate some, but I found that it drew you in and captivated you with the characters and story.

MORALLY: THE GOOD: The story is primarily a tale of redemption, and the main character Valjean’s journey from prison and hating, to salvation, and learning to be selfless, merciful and loving. There is also a contrast between Valjean’s story of grace and Javert’s more legalistic worldview, and how grace wins and legalism destroys. The message of the cross is quite strong for a Hollywood film, and is not diluted from the stage show. There is also the tale of students fighting in a battle for what they believe in, even though the odds may not be in their favour.

THE BAD: The Thenardiers” song “Master of the House” uses the name of Jesus in vain a few times (they are supposed to be the comic relief, they will offend, but they are not portrayed as the “good guys”). There are also sexual references and a scene about prostitution (not justifying it, but it is a character doing it out of desperation to try to save her child; it is not glamourized or encouraged). Many characters die (one is a suicide and a sound effect made our audience gasp), but, other than that, I didn’t find it overly graphic (I am usually sensitive to this). I am not trying to justify the morally objectionable parts. Don’t watch it if that bothers you, and that is why I strongly caution you to not take children.

But the story of redemption is absolutely beautiful and unmistakable. I’ve seldom seen a movie so powerful.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Michelle, age 22 (USA)
Positive—A couple months ago, I sat in a movie theater. During the previews, I saw a featurette, a behind the scenes clip on the production of “Les Miserables.” After watching the featurette and then seeing an actual trailer for “Les Miserables,” I just knew I had to see this movie. And might I say… I did not make the wrong decision. Yes, there was a theme involving sexuality revolving around this film. As my family and I agreed, it is the backbone of the movie and to take that away from “Les Miserables” would ruin the purpose of the musical and the rest of the movie would not make sense.

I agree that, yes, the cleavage bearing outfits were a bit much, as were the movements women were making at the beginning of the film. Inappropriate and the PG-13 rating is correct. As a Christan I DON’T condone the sexual behaviors, while at the same time I understand it was necessary.

The music was phenomenal! Simply breathtaking. I almost started crying in one scene. I never cry in movies, so that alone says how good the musical performances were. Certain characters caught my attention though: Fantine (Anne Hathaway), Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) and the young Cosette. There honestly wasn’t a bad performance from any of the characters.

No profanity that I was aware of (I was probably too impressed with the story to pay attention though). Once the film concluded, many applauded… including me. I hadn’t seen a film this well made since the “Phantom of the Opera” with Gerald Butler. I can honestly say that this will be in my DVD/Blu-ray pile next year. Congrats Universal! After 100 years of filmmaking, you haven’t lost your touch!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
Alexander Malsan, age 22 (USA)
Positive—I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this movie. The cinematography is outstanding. The acting and singing (even Russell Crowe) is very well done. This story is heartbreaking, but a theme of forgiveness and redemption runs through it in a powerful way. The director did a great job of capturing the emotion of the actors and giving the audience a realistic feel of France during the revolution. You feel like you are right in the middle of the Paris streets, a participant in the scenes. This is a powerful, well made movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Kathy, age 61 (USA)
Positive—This is an amazing film adaptation of one of the most beloved musicals of our time. It is based on the beautiful book written by Victor Hugo, and tells a breathtaking story of redemption and mercy. Overall, I was blown away by the cinematography, music, acting, costumes, and the new song. This is a film to take the whole family to. It is very real and paints a beautiful picture of the value of mercy and many other realities of life.

My mother first exposed me to this musical when I was three years old, and I have been fond of it my whole life. I think that artistically it is a film with great merit, but I think Christians will especially enjoy this wonderful story. Personally, my only problem with it was Russell Crowes portrayal of the character, Javert. His singing was just a mile behind every other cast member, and it really seemed as though he failed to grasp the essence of the character he was playing.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Hannah, age 18 (USA)
Positive—Beautiful film. Great artistic value and loved the Christian themes. Although there were some objectionable behavior by the inn keepers and at their inn, we cannot escape the immorality of the world or debauchery of some. The film did not condone it, simply portrayed it. The acting, singing, scenery was simply beautiful. Wonderful story line of redemption, repentance and love. The female voices sounded angelic. The ending made me cry. For those who may not enjoy singing thoughout, you may have a harder time than those who love music. But for both, I believe it is an excellent film.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Gloria, age 47 (USA)
Positive—I have seen the play twice and love the music, so I did love this movie. It is a powerful movie with a redemptive message. I don’t agree with the reviewer that it had heavy… sex/nudity. There was no nudity, at all. There were inappropriate sexual scenes, that were brief.… However, I do agree it is not for children.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Wendy, age 52 (USA)
Positive—First off, I saw the stage production of Les Mis several years ago and have read part of the book. When I first heard the movie musical adaption was coming out I was thrilled beyond belief. The movie itself held everything I expected it would. Before seeing the movie, one should know that it is indeed violent. After all, it is a war movie. There are a few sex scenes but nothing to bad, and the sexual comments that are made are few and wide apart. The overall tone of the movie, is dark, but it fearlessly deals with prostitution, suicide, children out of wedlock. Yet it puts all these things in a negative right. Never once does it condone these sins. In fact, the story holds wonderful morals about standing up for what is right, and finding forgiveness in God the Father. There is cursing in the movie but most of it is lost in the din of battle. This is not a movie for young eyes and ears or for the tender hearted but for those who enjoy action, history, and romance it is a good film. It was beautifully made and the cast did a wonderful job singing. I recommend it whole heartedly.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Emma S., age 22 (USA)
Positive— Let me begin by saying that I was introduced to Les Miserables at fifteen via a member of my church. Through the plot spanning twenty-five years through the June uprising of 1832, Les Miserables is a story of Jean Valjean’s struggle for redemption from hardened convict to weary father-figure. This movie is a stunning blend of a reinvention of the stage show and moments directly from Victor Hugo’s 1862 epic. The cinematography is beautiful and the singing is wonderful and real. Tom Hooper doesn’t shy away from the gritty realism of the extreme poor. To provide for her daughter, Fantine sells her hair, her teeth, and her body, becoming a prostitute. Although disturbing, it shows the reality of such a situation. It is brutal, but the slinking, emaciated women are not glamorous, and it serves a point of showing what Fantine has to do in a fallen world with no options left. The majority of the violence is in the student revolt as, for a brief shot, the streets literally run red with blood. However, most of the battle sequences are shot so that no graphic deaths are shown. There is one exception of two students facing a firing squad, but that is brief. Arguably the most violence is when Inspector Javert commits suicide by jumping from the Pont-Au-Change into the swirling Seine below. There is an audible crack when his body slams into the parapet beneath him. The worst material as far as being “offensive” goes comes in the “Master of the House” number. Usually rollicking fun (if bawdy) in the stage show, this is the point where I think Hooper really pushed it too far. Thenerdier stealing everybody blind shows what type of a person he is, including a scene involving the innkeeping couple grinding up rats for sausage was a bit much. That said, all the squalor and depravity of the world in which Valjean lives highlights the redemption and grace he finds through salvation; from the Bishop’s second chance to the “eye of God” symbolically watching as the ex-convict prays unselfishly. The glory of such a message rises above the gritty moments. Les Miserables is ultimately about redemption: who gets it, who doesn’t, who accepts it, and who can’t bear to. For older teens and adults, Les Miserables is absolutely a must-see.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—M. A. Berry, age 20 (USA)
Positive—This movie adaptation of the Broadway Musical definitely promotes a Christian world-view. Jean Valjean is an ex-convict who served 19 years in prison as a slave laborer as punishment for a minor crime. He is understandably bitter as a result of his experience. His world-view, however, is changed because of an act of forgiveness—really unmerited grace—extended to him by a priest early in the story. Jean Valjean comes to understand that his life is in God’s hands. For the remainder of his life, Jean Valjean lives to help others—whether it is a man pinned down by a runaway cart, the orphan Cosette, her love interest, Marius (among many others), or even his mortal enemy, Jean Valjean consistently extends to others grace and mercy that he himself has received. Through it all he sacrifices much and goes through a lot of suffering. In the end, he comes to realize that God had a purpose for everything that he went through. Ultimately, this is the story of a man who discovers God’s purpose for his life, even a life filled with much difficulty and suffering.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—James, age 57 (USA)
Positive—Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but what a singularly… odd review. Yes, this movie is grim. Yes, this movie is gritty. Yes, I found the “Master of the House” scene to be somewhat more vulgar than expected, and yes I wish it had been dialed back to some degree. Yet this review focuses solely on these elements, and not how much positivity is portrayed in the film. When is the last time we saw such a clear cut redemptive tale on film, and had such redemption credited to God? Jean Valjean is one of the most unashamedly Christian characters in culture. He turns his life around and dedicates it to God. He consistently disregards his own desires in order to follow the leanings of God, often risking his life, his personal happiness, and his good name. If he is to be called anything but a Christian character for his refusal to judge people, for his dedication to ministering to others, to caring for the lowest of the low, and for forgiving his enemies, then I believe you may be reading a different Bible than the or I read. Regarding the character of Javert, I did not see him as some sort of representation of Hollywood’s “take” on Christianity. Javert is nothing if not sincere in his beliefs, and he accurately represents the misguided groups of people who so desperately to find a faith that is based in forgiveness, not in works. He is not some kind of caricature: he is (or should be) a call to action for us all. Finally, if you believe that the film or the story in any way glorifies the dark underbelly of the world, you are missing the point entirely. In no way is it glorified. The one other sex scene in the film is so utterly loveless and inglorious that it would be hard not to understand its purpose to give us insight into Fantine’s plight. By the time the finale rolls around and Valjean’s journey is complete we should be able to feel his faith coming to fruition. The emotion and meaning is so clear. “We’ll some, good and faithful servant.” Victor Hugo once wrote in Les Miserables, that “The greatest happiness in life is the conviction that we are loved—loved for ourselves, or better still, loved in spite of ourselves.” If this is not the message we are to be taught as Christians, then I am sorely mistaken.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Lani, age 20 (USA)
Positive—I am so surprised and “extremely offended” by this negative review… I expected to see nothing but praise for a movie that so beautifully shows the love and redemption of God, especially in the character of Jean Valjean. The love that the priest shows him changes his life, and he becomes someone who shines with mercy and love. Javert, in contrast, is someone who considers himself devout but is nothing but an angry and vengeful man who is lacking in any human kindness or mercy. He is a “pharisee” and lives with the letter of the law but no compassion or true sense of God whatsoever. I have seen this musical on stage twice and the movie is very faithful in it’s portrayal. In terms of sexuality I felt the movie toned it down! I often disagree with your reviews but I am so disappointed and amazed that you did not see the most beautiful expression of the love of god and how Jean Valjean truly lived it! This is one of the best movies I have seen especially in terms of how we should live to show God’s love.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Debbie, age 54 (USA)
Positive—I wasn’t sure what to expect with “Les Miserables.” I’d heard some good and some bad reviews of it, and also had mixed feelings from what I had seen in previews and heard in sound clips. While it wasn’t a perfect movie, I definitely came away pleased. The immorality was less than I thought it was going to be, based on some reviews. I think all that was mentioned was there, but most of it was going on in the background, and I was watching the foreground (at least, my guess is that’s what was going on in the background; I didn’t look). There was a scene cut, because I was viewing it in the Middle East. I will add that there were things that were hinted at, and immodesty throughout. There was not more swearing than there is in the musical—if anything, there was less, because of things they cut or changed.

The sewers were absolutely disgusting. You could tell it was sewage. Which is realistic, but gross. They did cut verses and reorder songs. The cutting was sad sometimes, but other times it cut out songs or verses that weren’t as good morally. I didn’t mind the re-ordering of songs, since they seemed to fit better where they were put now. I really enjoyed most of the singing. Russell Crowe was disappointing. He just sounded… stuffy. Marius alone seemed to combine singing and acting in a way that both were the best. Most of the singers sounded weak—I don’t mean bad voices, just they didn’t have power. Nobody “thundered.” This was highlighted for me when there was ensemble singing and then it went to a solo. It lost all its intensity when that happened. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: none / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Kyleigh, age 19 (United Arab Emirates)
Positive—I am very surprised that the reviewer and others would have a negative view. I think that this film was a wonderful embrace of God and of Christianity. Of course, it’s not for children, and I would never recommend it for them. But not everything is for children. Yes, there are scenes of death, evil, suicide, prostitution. But those scenes are there for a reason. Look at all of the positive messages! A former criminal is shown mercy by a priest and embraces God. He embarks on a new path, determined to be a good, honest better Christian person. Included in his new mission of love is to adopt the daughter of a dying woman and raise her well. She is good and honest and marries a nice young man. Many cast members in the film look to God, and they famously declare that “to love another person is to see the face of God”. This film is filled with characters who look to God for guidance. It’s a film of compassion, love, mercy.

Yes, there are very difficult scenes, but I am very dismayed that people would give this a negative review. The negative scenes, of poverty, prostitution, death, etc. They are there for a reason! Not to be exploitative. This is a beautiful film about being a good honest Christian, being kind, taking mercy and loving others. It’s not easy to watch, of course, but I enjoyed it. And the music is great, too!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Alan, age 35 (USA)
Positive—My husband and I watched the movie together and did not speak, move or get up. We cried, and we were touched by the actors. The music, staging and entire production was outstanding. As a Christian, I was touched that if one knows the Bible and has a real relationship with Jesus Christ, devoid of denominational debate, then one comes away with the message of, “Love, one another, as you love yourself.” “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Give God the Glory for all things; be forgiving as you would wish to be forgiven.“… love your enemies, the meek will inherit the world, the truth shall make you free… etc.… etc.…

I found the sexual content a part of the life God created. I found the sin and the human faults and flaws accurate in real life. I find nothing wrong with this movie, as a mother, a grandmother and a Christian. I think the actresses were amazing portraying what we go through as women. I think the singing from actors who are not singers was lovely, and the singing of the adult Cozette was like an angel! Her vibrato and pitch, etc.… was perfect, and melodic of a real Angel in Heaven. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Donna Sue Baker-shoaf, age 46 (USA)
Positive—When I found out Les Miz was a musical, I was rather surprised, seeing it’s such a big piece of literature. Not to mention that the book touches on many heavy subjects like wars, death, poverty, prostitution, sin, redemption—all that good stuff. I admit I have never seen the stage play, although I had heard some of the songs (just two really). When I heard about the movie, I was eager to see it. I went to see it on opening day with my mom, and I came out quite pleased with the results. I really, really, REALLY love this movie. It may have flaws, no film is perfect, but I’m willing to defend them.

Let’s start with the singing. The singing in the film isn’t terrible, but it might bother fans of the stage play, because it doesn’t sound “pretty”. Best examples would be Anne Hathaway’s version of “I Dreamed a Dream,” Hugh Jackman’s “Bring Him Home,” or anything with Russell Crowe. But while the singing may not be as good as it is on the stage, the actors do a great job of bringing new light to the songs, and they really do put passion into it. I know people debate that Crowe’s acting and singing was weak, but it personally didn’t bother me. I was able to watch his performance and enjoy the movie. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Andrea, age 21 (USA)
Positive—I appreciate this Web site and the reviews submitted here, a lot. I usually agree with the views in the majority, but not always. In this case, I felt I should add my own impressions as I felt that a very broad brush was being used to paint this as a movie to be avoided. As a Christian, I try to avoid bad company and absent myself from situations where the language or activity is offensive to Christ and my own conscience. But, the reality is we live in a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah and, unless you are a monk or live as far away from other people as possible (which is sinful itself—Isaiah 5:8), there are many occasions where we have to endure the actions, language, and problems caused by wicked people.

What so many Christians try to do is avoid sinners and the world at large, when our Lord expressly went out of his way to spend time with and around them! Association does not always imply consent! In that same vein, this movie does contain a few (I repeat, a few), instances of bawdiness and unseemly behavior. I enjoyed the movie immensely, but honestly was a bit put-off by the Innkeeper scene. I barely heard the Lord’s name being used, because I was waiting for that scene to be over and looking at my popcorn. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Steve F, age 56 (USA)
Positive—“Les Miserables” is my favorite story and musical in all the world, without exception, and is far and away the absolute finest musical play in the history of the performing arts. There is nothing, morally or artistically, that even remotely approaches the beauty, majesty, and ennobling spirit of the musical “Les Miserables.” The film version released in 2012 has its flaws, but they are very, very few.

I get really tired of pharisaical denunciations of artistic works because they contain depictions of nudity, sin, or some “cussing.” The Holy Bible itself depicts all these sins and more and is not a child-friendly book. That is why Christian booksellers sell very many editions of highly edited Children’s” Bibles. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Donald R, age 52 (USA)
Positive—I saw the London stage musical 26 years ago. It was my senior year of high school. The play had a powerful impact on me then. I came back from England and listened to the music for years after. Last year, my husband took me to see the current stage production of “Les Mis….” It was not as good as the original London version, but still powerful. Then, I was given the film as a gift. We watched it tonight. I have to say, next to the London stage, it was amazing.

Absolutely, this is not a film for young children. However, the degradation of this movie is the point. Through the bad choices of fallen people, we see how lives are affected. Then, in the midst of those horrible moments, those dark and ugly places, God shows up and is still willing to love and redeem His people. The audience should take away how simple decisions that seemed small pushed the characters into hopeless seeming situations. Then we get to watch God work through them when they lean on Him.

In the Bible, some of the mightiest people are those that were shunned by regular society. I believe it is easiest for God to use the broken. As for this movie, I cried through the ending, just like I did in London 26 years ago.
My Ratings: Moral rating: none / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Tracy, age 44 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—I cannot, as a Christian, recommend this film. I love the story, it is one of the most touching I have ever seen. The quality of this film is unmatched. The acting was literally the best I have ever seen, for any film. The songs were so moving, I felt as if it could touch the world. If this were a non Christian reading this, I would say, please, go see this film. But, as a Christian, I cannot in good conscience recommend this film, mainly because of its graphic portrayals in too many scenes, even when not warranted, nor expected, of immodesty. I don’t even understand why some of it is in there, except to offend. Some may argue realism, but the one thing it really does is offend.

I was so glad for the Christian incidence, especially in the songs. But I just can’t understand why people would make scenes that kids shouldn’t watch. What a waste of such a powerful message, there is a way to impact, without offending.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Tim Stromer, age 46 (USA)
Neutral—…What about towards the end of the Movie, where the battle takes place, where the “All Seeing Eye” Evil Illuminati eye is displayed several times in the back ground. I Personally believe this has some thing to do with Brain Washing Christians to Accept The Eye of Horus. God Bless.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Ronni, age 36 (Sri Lanka)
Neutral—I have seen the play three times and had become increasingly disturbed by the suggestiveness portrayed, to the point that I had decided to never see it again, though I still admire the major theme of law vs. Grace in this story. I then decided to see the movie. It was well made from a production standpoint, and some of the acting and singing (Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, and the girl who played Eponine) were very good, not so much Russell Crowe (singing).

However, what ended up bothering me the most (after the offensiveness of the sexual scenes and the use of Jesus” name in vain in one of the songs) was the ending. As Jean Valjean dies and walks away from his mortal body, presumably to heaven, he is greeted by all the departed of revolutionaries, etc. In a sweeping rendition on the set of the final song (“When Tomorrow comes”), and I suddenly thought “really, really, is this meant to portray that all these people are with the Lord (?), none of whom were portrayed as even remotely redeemed throughout the film!” Somehow, that final scene said that we are all “okay” as long as we try to “do good” here, or are so poor we have had no chance. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Married Lady And Mom, age 66 (USA)
Neutral—I don’t know what to think of this film: this musical had so much potential that I feel simply wasn’t lived up to. My main concern is the fact that Valjean’s spiritual journey is so ignored in this film. If you didn’t go into it as a believer already, I don’t think you would realize the full extent of what truly takes Valjean from a fallen man into a godly one, nor Javert’s reason for his change of heart at the end. It felt spiritually empty to me. I also didn’t like how this movie was filmed at all—the extreme close ups, the shaky camera, and the unflattering angles were distracting rather than an asset.

There are some things I did love about it—Anne Hathaway was absolutely wonderful; how they introduced “Did You Hear the People Sing” was a stroke of genius, and if the entire film had been as brilliantly done as “One Day More,” it would have been a masterpiece. Regarding the inappropriate content, I thought how Fantine’s scene was handled was very tactfully done, but the scene at the inn between the prostitute and “Saint Nick” was totally tasteless. I may rent it at some point for a re-watch; my opinion could change, but all in all, I wasn’t impressed. My favorite version of the story remains the 1998 version.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Charity, age 29 (USA)
Neutral—It is very difficult to provide a review for this film. In terms of filmmaking quality, I LOVED it. It also has several rich themes of redemption, mercy, and sacrificial love. The Christian message is not at all watered down—the crucifix or a cross is pictured in many of the key scenes, where a character’s life is being changed by mercy, and a priest is the impetus for the conversion of the main character. As a running theme, Jean is given opportunities several times to benefit from evil, but is strong in his resolve to imitate Christ’s love for the weaker man.

It must be understood that the story is inevitably gritty, though I do believe the portrayal of the debauchery at the inn was over the top. It is meant to show the underbelly of France’s poor as the reviewer says, and these characters are portrayed as cons and enemies, not as good. However, I do not want those images and sounds in my head, and sadly to say, they immediately come to mind when I think back on the movie. This is upsetting to me because I enjoyed the movie so much and would love to watch it again, but it is not at all family-friendly. I would not want my 16 year-old sister watching the film, though she could easily watch an earlier non-musical version of it.

If I could recommend a plan of action for Christian movie-goers, it would be to rent the movie when it comes out and fast-forward the inn scene as well as possibly the scene where Fontine prostitutes herself. Just don’t fast forward her next song in desperation after she gives herself up, as it is a highlight of the movie!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Grace, age 19 (USA)
Neutral—As a movie patron and a musician, I loved this movie. As a serious Christian, I found it somewhat morally flawed, but very realistic in its depiction of the times, and a wonderful presentation of law verses grace. As a pastor/evangelist, I believe it to be a most useful tools to visually present how the love of God can change a life. I urge you to buy a ticket for a lost friend (the moral issues won’t bother them), take them to this movie and then tell them how Jesus can change their life, as well. This film opens the heart. Use it to reach someone for Jesus!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Larry Nunnally, age 64 (USA)
Neutral—There is the whole history of the humanity in this movie, story and symbolism… and that is;
-slavery and authority, despotism, evil, suffering… and law but not humanity important
-victim man steal in the church the treasure which doesn’t belong there but good priest help him and save him from the law, but what was the church position with state more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Anton, age 50 (Canada)
Negative
Negative—Have you ever been to a magnificent restaurant. It was all there, the atmosphere, violins playing in the background, the linens, the silver, the maitre d’ and a delicious soup was served . The aroma and taste are amazing, but then you notice a hair in the soup, and it isn’t your hair. That’s how I felt about “Les Miserable.” First, know that it is more opera than musical, my husband commented “what were there, 100 songs?”, but he admitted they were good songs. Russell Crowe’s voice was a little weak, but his character portrayal more then compensated. The sets are lavish. The songs are beautiful . I have been greatly moved by every version of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece on forgiveness and redemption ,and by this, also, but not as much.

Hugo was a Catholic, but, like many believers, left the faith, perhaps overwhelmed with the political upheaval of the time and personnel loss, several or all of his children died tragic deaths. The time period is after the “enlightenment” had ushered in the French Revolution. This socialist peoples revolution was an anti-God revolution, and, like all atheistic revolutions, the Church and clerics were its target, layity and cleric murdered, persecuted and the Church weakened. The socialist peoples government could not fill the spiritual and physical needs of the masses and the ensuing poverty, darkness, and hopelessness is amply portrayed. Napoleon allowed religion, but I think controlled as he saw it provided morality and hope.

And so for the hair in the soup. Anne Hathaway character is forced into prostitution, a little too much detail as a soldier “buys” her wares in a box on the Warf as she sings” doesn’t he know he makes love to somebody already dead?” The decadence a little too graphic. The Santa scene in the brothel was very offensive. So, unlike the other versions I have seen, the movie is definitely not for family viewing… Which is a shame because it is a good story.

The gospel is there if you look for it, .forgiveness, redemption and the triumphant of good over evil if not in this life, in the next, but the evil in this film overshadows any good it might have done. I can’t believe “Christians “are saying this is a tool for evangelization. How low has our moral bar been lowered. ?
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Susan, age 55 (USA)
Negative—First, I have not read the book or seen any other portrayal of this story. This is my first experience. The filmography and music where, to put it mildly, phenomenal. So much passion in the acting and music, that it moved me deeply. The story is one of conversion and forgiveness. I found that very powerful. That being said, I was very offended by the extreme sexual content. There were things that could have been alluded to, and not so graphically shown. A lot of immodesty and brashness.

As a Christian, I can not recommend this movie. If you want to be moved, listen to the sound track—truly beautiful music. I was very disappointed by the sexual content. I never, ever watch a movie with this level of sexual content, and I kick myself for not investigating further before watching it. Hope this review helps other believers, in their decision on whether to go or not.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Claire, age 42 (USA)
Negative—If the prostitution scene (where even after looking away, I could still hear the sound of the man’s sexual release) weren’t enough, there is a scene where a woman is sitting on Santa yelling “oh Santa!” I walked out after that. The theme of grace and mercy that I saw was nice, but it does not take away the fact that I don’t care to have those sounds or images seared in my memory. I think the sounds and images you have in an intimate relationship like marriage should stay there. And I prefer not to glimpse them occurring between others.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Katherine, age 24 (USA)
Negative—What great songs, moments and themes there were (and yes there were many) were completely marred by the vulgarity and lewd racy content.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—John, age 42 (USA)
Negative— I saw it last night and felt like walking out but did not want to upset my husband only to find out he also wanted to walk out. I closed my eyes and put my head down on a lot of it. If we look back on history we can find that most of this was true. Such poverty and dirty, filthy starving adults and children with depravity of all kinds. Yes and that is why the revolution came about, but the movie was over the top with being very offensive. I did not see nudity but how close can you get? Unless it was when I had my head down. The first time I saw the play on stage was in Boston some 25 years ago, I had such good memories of it and now it has all been crushed. I wish I had never gone. :(
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1
—Mary, age 63 (USA)
Negative—I liked this movie, but I sat next to a family that had their young son and daughter with them. I hurt for those kids for the same reasons mentioned. It is vile during some scenes, and not knowing the story very well, I just thought it was part of the original. I’m so happy to know it’s not. If I had read these reviews beforehand (and I wish that I had), I would not have seen this movie. So the movie quality is excellent, but the offensive scenes are just too intolerable.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Michelle, age 47 (USA)
Negative—This movie was terrible. I agree that is was dark overall. We walked out on part of this movie, so did not even see the worst parts. I counted the taking of the Savior’s name in vain five times. It glorified ugliness and degeneracy.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Stephanie, age 48 (USA)
Negative—Most people don’t know that Victor Hugo not only had a 50 year affair outside of his marriage, but also wrote Les Mis while consulting mediums. Yes, he was heavily into séances and “channeling,” and there is a book—Victor Hugo’s Conversations with the Spirit World—which greatly details all of this. I would not even recommend his novel, as it is demonic in origin. Brilliant, yes, but the devil isn’t stupid either. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Chris, age 48 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—First off, I have seen the stage version of this play and read part of the book, as well as being very familiar with the plot, on the whole. But I have to entirely disagree with the reviewer here. Yes, this film has some objectionable content, definitely. But in a film like this (It is called “The Miserable,” after all) you must portray the gritty realism of this depressing world! It WAS harsh, and there were people who were dying in the streets and had to survive in any way that they could, prostitution included. If they had toned down these elements, how could the main themes of redemption and glory in such misery be as powerful and impacting?

In my belief, this film has a wonderful message. While the film is dark, it has an eventual end that leaves you with a strong ray of hope, along with the certainty that what God brings tomorrow will be for the better. And in God’s portrayal in this film, it’s better than what you are going to find in many other films in Hollywood. Our heroes pray and treat him reverently. Many songs reference to the fact that he is there and cares about his people. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Marianna, age 16 (USA)
Neutral—First off, the book is a classic work of art I recommend. In Victor Hugo’s own words (which is counter to this reviewer’s stance in this story) “God is the main character in this story. Humanity plays the secondary role. Every once in a while Hugo mentions the “Infinity” standing on the sidelines, yet He is the strongest player in the game. It has a strong Grace vs. Law argument, and Jesus is portrayed as the ultimate role model, a model the ex-convict Jean ValJean strives to be, yet he himself thinks he fails in being.

Some may say it has Socialistic themes like the unfairness in class. There are indeed several Left wing messages throughout, but me, being a Right winger, I thought, “Wasn’t our revolution partly inspired by the unfairness of the monarchy, as well, that the kings and lords make themselves out like gods?” That was one of the main reasons of Hugo being against the monarchy. There are politics in which I disagree with, but, as a whole, it is a book of faith, and that is what I love. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4

, age 17 (USA)
Positive—I have just seen this film, and I really liked it. The acting was amazing, and it was really emotional. The actors did an amazing job at singing and putting such emotion into the scenes, you do kind of get goosebumps. There are some things that were objectionable like a sex scene (though no nudity was shown), humour that was not necessary (if you watch it at home, it’s mainly when Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter are on, just to warn you), and there was also unnecessary language. So those things let the film down for me. Also, I know it was a musical, but don’t musicals have speech, too? Though the singing was superb, the whole thing was singing. I have seen other musicals, film and stage productions, and it’s not just singing all the way through, there is speech, too.

Overall, this film was amazing, and it brought me to tears at some parts. I’m not sure that I would watch it again, mainly because of its length, but it is a very good film, and I would recommend it, though not to younger audiences.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Connie, age 15 (United Kingdom)
Positive—…I do what little I can to bring to light but a few of the many very Christian ideals presented in Les Miserables. In any format, the story of Les Miserables is not one that glamorizes a faithful and religious life, but rather strives to expand upon the extremely Christian values of a hard life with faith being much more important and spiritually fulfilling than an easy life without it. The instances in which the crude underside of 19th-century society are shown exist in order to vividly exhibit the trials and tribulations that many of the characters face, and therefore expound the importance of faith without seeking reward. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Catherine Susan Bridget, age 17 (USA)
Comments from non-viewers
Negative—Wise words and well spoken in the two reviews above. Wisdom usually comes with age and experience, but not always (thank you both Katherine and Claire). I have not viewed this new movie yet; I have only seen the trailer a few times, yet I have seen both the musical in NYC and the more recent movie. I have read the book, and it is marvelous, amazing, and deeply touches your soul. Nevertheless, I appreciate the above reviews and don’t think I want to see this new adaptation! It would spoil the beauty of the story I have in my mind. Viewers would do well to beware.
—Charity, age 58 (USA)
Negative—I was told by a lovely, moral couple in their 40s, that this was their favorite movie; they have seen it twice and will go again. They loved the story of love and forgiveness! (I was hooked there!) I asked if my 11-year (almost 12) old daughter could see it. They paused, and said to close her eyes on the “one” part of prostitution (Anne Hathaway), but, overall, we could both see it. They said to explain that prostitution was a way of life back then, etc, etc. So prior to the movie, I explained what I thought would be enough to my daughter. I was mistaken… big time!!

I had no idea how dark and gritty this movie was. No idea! The beginning was fine, just fine. So I relaxed, as it began with Jackman’s character. Then the ugliness began. I am sick that I took my sweet, pure daughter to this. We got up and left after the crude Santa scene. I kept telling my daughter to close her eyes… not enjoyable. I thought somehow, this movie was going to turn around. She was embarrassed during the Santa scene, as I was not expecting that, so we both saw it! Now that memory is with her, and I have huge regrets. I feel absolutely sick. This is the last time I take someone’s opinion, without checking with this Web site first.

I can find love and forgiveness through Bible stories, and what God has done in my life and other’s. I need not sit through a crude film such as this. A family with 2 young girls was sitting next to us when we arrived, so I felt like I was in good company. I pray that they left as well! Maybe the musical play is much better, and that is where “Les Miserables” gets such notoriety. I don’t want to take the chance again!
My Ratings: Moral rating: / Moviemaking quality:
—Sheila, age 47 (USA)
Negative—I have read the book and also seen the older movie version. I attended this movie with my three twentysomething daughters and a boyfriend of one of them. I was so embarrassed. We did decide to walk out after the innkeeper scene. It was totally unnecessary to the movie, and I don’t recall the book being like that. It was just to satisfy the public taste of today. We all remarked how dirty we felt after watching it. Do not see this movie, if you care anything about modesty. I am also disappointed that many Christians and Christian movie review sites give this movie a good review, with the understanding that children should not see it. Nobody should see it!
—Barbara, age 55 (USA)
Neutral—I was initially intrigued when I read that Tom Hooper (director of the excellent television miniseries” “Elizabeth I” and the so-so “John Adams” and the terrific drama “The King’s Speech”) was going to direct a new film version of Victor Hugo’s classic novel Les Miserables. However, my enthusiasm faded quickly when I read that it would be based, not on the novel, but on the long-running stage musical. First off, let me mention, if I may, that I enjoy musicals. “The Sound Of Music,” “Fiddler On The Roof,” “Singin” In The Rain,” “My Fair Lady,” “Mary Poppins” and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” are some of the musicals I’ve seen over the course of my short life on earth. So why don’t I want to see “Les Miserables,” simply because it’s based on a musical? Even when it’s got several excellent actors in the crucial roles? There is simply way too much material in the novel (which runs to over 1,000 pages in the unabridged version punlished by Signet Classics, the abridged version published by Barnes and Noble Classics is just under 1,000 pages; both are worth reading, though you may want to stick with the abridged version, which has been cut appropriately, in my opinion) to make a musical, let alone a successful one, out of it.

To do the novel justice, the musical would have to be over 15 hours long. Le Fantôme de l'Opéra, on the other hand, lent itself well to being a musical and the stage show is excellent, and I dare say, even better than the novel by Gaston Leroux. That, however, should not be taken as a licence to skip reading the book and simply view the stage production by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber or the spectacular 2004 movie starring Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum, Patrick Wilson and Miranda Richardson. I’ve heard several of the songs from the musical Les Mis on YouTube to make my own judgement on the music. The “famous” song I Dreamed A Dream isn’t half-bad, though. On My Own isn’t that good of a song. Do You Hear The People Sing is passable. I just try to forget that the songs are from a musical which is based on one of the greatest novels ever written.

I’ll view the movie for free even more so now after reading the content on this site. I think that, had the musical been given another title and different characters (ie. NOT based on a classic novel), the songs would be much better. So, I will view the movie, but for free via XFinity On Demand, as I will not have to pay for it.
—D, age 26 (USA)
Negative— THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, HONEST REVIEWERS!! I know the story well but also know Hollywood and the enemy!! I prayed and came here and for honest reviews based on biblical standards. No watering down, no on the fence, it’s not that bad, Satan seeping in comments… Thank you. No matter how popular, classical, great on Broadway… I will not be going to this movie!!!
—Me, age 22 (USA)
Positive—I intend to see “Les Miserables” when the time is right. However, I notice some comments are offended at the vulgarity in this movie. From what the positive comments say, the evil is portrayed in a negative light (as in, done by the villains, not the heroes) and God is praised. Honestly, the Bible is LOADED with sin, evil, and vulgar stuff, some of which “good” men (King David and Paul are two examples) participate in; what matters is if evil is appropriately called evil and good is appropriately good and if an evil-doer regrets his actions, glorifying repentance and conviction (as the examples I mentioned did). Maybe I’ll wait for the DVD, but I do hope to see it.
—Peter, age 22 (USA)
Neutral—I am posting this comment under “neutral” since I have not seen the movie yet, and am still undecided whether I will. I just came on here to say, to anyone concerned with the sexual scenes or vulgarity… see the 1998 version with Liam Neeson and Uma Thurman. It has all the amazing storyline and the realism without the graphic nature that I’ve been reading about in the reviews. Here is the link to the review from this Web site.
—Ruth, age 45
Positive—I love musicals. I want to see this! I’ve seen “The Phantom of the Opera.” I understand that there is a high level of sexual content. It is not something that Hollywood added. Victor Hugo’s original novel had Fantine as a prostitute. Fantine is not a prostitute for encouraged purposes, rather because her daughter needs money, and she could not get a job. It does not justify the depiction of prostitutes; however, it shows the reason. This is great story of redemption. I recommend it to everyone, except children.
—Rose, age 15 (USA)

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