18th January 2013

The strangest thing happened to be me on the way home last night. I sat beside a middle-aged blonde woman who looked suspiciously like The Home Secretary! It was only when she grabbed her chips and got off the night bus I realised she had left her House of Common’s notebook behind. Opening (only to confirm her identity) I came across this review for a recent Hollywood smash she had written. Had she been sober enough to give me her permission herself, I’m sure she’d be thrilled that I’m sharing her tentative foray into cultural journalism with you, the public:

 There is a lot of fuss about Oscar favourite musical “Les Miserables” at the moment. I frankly found it confusing, farfetched and hard to follow- working class white people from deprived back grounds represented in a sympathetic manner?! If I wanted to watch “Chav’s the Musical” I would have turned on BBC3 thanks! That’s a joke of course.  Everybody knows BBC are far too busy covering up child abuse to even consider such innovative broadcasting.

Why on earth should I feel sorry for a load of flag-waving, free loading 19th century French rioters?  I’m sure the hardworking, everyday Parisians, who ignored the protests, kept their head down and got on with it, would be pretty miffed that we are glorifying these looters.  Where’s their musical?  It comes as no surprise that even then it was, of course, students behind it.  The fact that history has proved them to have completely over reacted will be a relief to Nick Clegg at least!

As for being a modern day class- I found the characters unrealistic, unlikeable or downright frustrating. Anne Hathaway plays a single mother dumped by her boyfriend, sacked from her factory job and forced into prostitution to pay for the spiralling costs of her childcare. Well I’m sorry Fantine, but maybe you should have considered your life options before getting yourself knocked up? The whole thing was like Little Britain sketch only rubbish. She never even offered to swap her baby for a Beethoven CD .Why didn’t she just move back home with her parents? Besides in those days, as even “comrade” Victor Hugo acknowledges, if you couldn’t afford healthcare to tackle the dirty sex diseases eating you up from the inside, the private sector, as always, was there to step in.  Fantine had local businessman Hugh Jackman nearby to pay for her hospice care and adopt her child. This is of course, a wonderful example of the Big Society popping up to sort things out, even back then.

I did find Hugh Jackman’s Jean Valjean hard to believe though.  We’re supposed to believe that an ex- con, through hard work and discipline, can not only become a successful business man but also an elected official? Like I said, some of the story lines were very farfetched.

Not all the characters are so bonkers. Revolutionary Marius may start off like one of the loony left, abandoning his upper class roots to hang around with a rabble of troublemakers, but as soon as the shit hits the Parisian sewers, he ditches the mucky working class girl for a lovely lady, dumps the radical politics and finishes the film at his really smashing wedding. Good for you Marius! His lovely wife Cossette, seems like a smashing girl.

With all this irresponsible talk of “The people” “liberty” and “food to eat” it’s a relief when one of the characters finally seems to talk sense.  The only person with a responsible, realistic and sensible solution to post Revolutionary politics was the hero of the entire film Javert. Tough but fair, he tried to explain to the shirkers and feckless, caught in the benefit trap of post revolutionary Paris, the difficult choices facing them all. He tracks down a criminal who has broken his parole, only asking that he serves his time. Twenty years for stealing a loaf of bread may seem harsh but imagine what a message that sent out to other people who maybe thought stealing bread to feed starving children was cool or an easy way out of getting a job? It wasn’t even Javert’s fault he was dealing with the inheritance left over from Louis XVI anyway! When he killed himself as the end, I was hugely disappointed. I was hoping they’d give him another solo so I could hear his thoughts on how to tackle immigration.

Don’t get me wrong, I can see why the film is so popular; a movie about hopeless people, wasted youth and an out of touch elite is wonderful escapism.  It was the sobbing I found strange; the hopeless, despairing, gut wrenching sobbing that seemed to fill the cinema stalls from the masses around me. A bit of an overreaction I thought- Russell Crowes singing was that bad!

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