The key moment comes, however, when Éponine witnesses a gang preparing to attack the house where Cosette and Valjean are hiding. If she remains silent, Cosette may be taken away or even killed, and she may have a chance to win Marius. But despite the evident pain of her unrequited love, she chooses valor over vengeance, saving Cosette and Valjean by screaming to alert them.
Éponine later disguises herself as a young man to join Marius at the barricade, where she saves his life in a courageous display of sacrificial love. Although a minor character, her role is both heroic and deeply touching.
Anne Hathaway also delivers a tear-jerking performance in the role of Fantine, the factory worker who is cast out when her supervisor discovers the existence of her young daughter, Cosette. Desperate to support her child, she sells her belongings, hair and even teeth before being driven into prostitution.
Hathaway’s skeletal appearance is startling, albeit fitting for the role. Her performance of “I Dreamed a Dream” is absolutely chilling, as is the look in her eyes when Valjean promises that he will care for her child.
With palpable emotion from Valjean’s first paternal smile at Cosette to the final desperate battle at the barricade, Les Misérables delivers a powerful message of mercy and love.
Rated PG-13, the film deals with heavy themes including prostitution and the violent death of children, but it largely avoids graphic and gratuitous depictions, instead choosing more tastefully to show glimpses of these atrocities, which are enough to convey an idea of their horror.
Featuring an all-star cast including Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried and Helena Bonham Carter, the movie is sure to be a hit at the box office. It is a refreshing change from so many of the shallow films coming out of Hollywood.
With dazzling performances, bold visuals and heartfelt renditions of beloved songs, Les Misérables can be a tool for evangelization, telling a story of redemption and grace that is much-needed in the modern world and pointing to the ultimate discovery that “To love another person is to see the face of God.”