Of course many negative role models out there give children poor seeds all the time, and it’s even harder to distinguish those negative role models from the peacekeepers. Those who even claim to be peacekeepers are in fact the ones lying to us and making us believe our world isn’t as corrupt as it really is. Few can decipher whether those phony peacekeepers really bring balance, or whether they condemn our inability to accept that we live under Marxism. Les Misérables takes the classic book title into the context of how those establishing justice perhaps walk about as the most toxic to civilization, and does so successfully as the intense power of its cinematic prowess raises awareness of our dark garden.
Yet it still has fallbacks, among the more noticeable ones is a number of small details that pull away from the main purpose, one being a distractingly cute lion cub that doesn’t flow with the consistently gritty tone of the picture. Consequently, there’s an excessive aura of immorality from every single character; there’s two teenage boys focused on, both extremely disobedient toward their parents. One kidnapped that adorable lion cub, the other flies his drone in front of the windows of other girls as they undress. The one with the cub spends much of the film with the three co-leads who are a part of the law enforcement, and he never really connects with any of them, nor do they connect distinctly with him. The drone boy has a different problem, he keeps all his feelings hidden without facial range, making it impossible to sympathize with whatever happens to him.
As for the three leads, they aren’t the best written of characterizations either, even when one of them harasses a teenage girl at the busstop in an abuse of his law enforcement authority. Besides just these three, there’s also two other men who oversee a segment of crime in the area, and neither of them are impactful enough to be memorable either. Because of how forgettable these characters are, most adults under middle-age could most realistically grow bored because they would not be able to relate for long to what happens.
Okay, time to dissect the good. First order of business, the makeup design is done with enough attention to detail to explain the entire backstory of every character. Each little visual decision in how to do the actors’ hair and facial wounds feels intentionality chosen; complete once a narrow stairway stages a mass shopping cart assault full of bruises. Accompanying the makeup effects, the costume designs convey the harsh reality that rapes the retinas. This is a society where prostitution is the Nigerians’ new drug, so of course the wardrobes do what’s needed to expose the people living in the area, which this achieves by its color scheme. A powerful first frame features a boy wearing the nation’s flag secured onto him loosely, so the wind blows against it like he’s ebbed by the tide of crime that’s present in the otherwise upbeat rally he attends.
The French colors continue to overwhelm that rally. In this context, France’s colors of red, white, and blue together represents the reward of proper cultivation. So appropriately enough, when these colors are seen throughout the rest of the feature, they’re almost always separated from one another, as if Paris has no grip on what proper cultivation looks like. For the bits without much color, graffiti builds the stairway walls to show just how toxic Paris can really be when it comes to cultivation. The actors building up this culture do so intentionally as they all seem to talk as fluidly as Victor Hugo’s famous phrase, “Remember this, my friends: there are no such things as bad plants or bad men. There are only bad cultivators.” So as the direction shows kids sledding on garbage bin lids, and as it utilizes a symbolic usage of smart phones, this version of Paris feels alive with how poorly the cultivators live.
The power of their acting would be for nothing though without the cinematography; it’s done so that it always feels filmed on a drone to represent the constant distraught speech. The camera never really settles on a tripod; among the few stationary images is the masterfully composed single frame of a lion cage at the circus. So while the characters maybe aren’t too memorable, the imagery certainly is, especially during the horrifying moment when a kid has to go inside that lion cage with the beast in there too. While some shots do unintentionally interrupt the gritty atmosphere of the film, such as an aerial view of an outdoor market, the photography work remains deceptively complex in its simple approach. The buildings always appear framed to emphasize their cage-like patterns, as if around the combat between two opposing sides, an invisible cinematography approach that achieves everything necessary to tell the story.
This fluid style allows the events to feel like they’re set in real time, or more like set to the structure of a book called, “Shit Life,” that the main guy reads. Yes, it’s essentially like reading that very book, which in turn connects to the protagonist, so the information about his past, present, and future is understood by the end.
It’s important right now that our American culture watches international political movies throughout the next seven months, especially Les Misérables in its awareness of Karl Marx’s socioeconomical concepts. Seeing how we depend on material possessions to define class borders; an Anti-Crime Brigade could actually encourage that separation by utilizing the materialistic love designed to degrade humans. It discourages valuing the life of a lion cub above the life of a kidnapper despite the social norm.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!