Mike Kueber's Blog

December 27, 2012

Saturday Night at the Movies #58 – Les Miserables

Filed under: Book reviews,Movie reviews,Religion — Mike Kueber @ 8:43 pm
Tags: , , ,

Les Misérables (2012) is a new musical that was released Christmas weekend.  The movie is based on an all-time great French novel of the same name by Victor Hugo in 1862, and its plot revolves around the French revolution.  I almost never see a musical, but I was on a date (with a former flame) and the girl wanted to see it.  Good choice. 

Who’d a thunk Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, and Anne Hathaway could sing?  I had read that Russell Crowe, despite his Academy Award-winning credentials, had to audition for his part, but that certainly seems reasonable considering that the movie has almost no dialogue and is almost exclusively singing – 49 songs. 

Although the book – at 1400 pages – is one of the longest ever, the 160-minute film effectively captures the essence of the book’s storyline.  Amazingly, I was so captivated by the story that this old guy was able to stay wide-awake despite the movie’s 11 pm starting time.  Of course, the company of an enchanting woman probably had something to do with that.  

My date was someone who I previously thought so much of that I considered her to be a strong marital prospect.  But I was reluctant to pull the trigger (commitment-phobe?), and she has since moved on to greener pastures.  Seeing her again, however, caused me to reflect on what I gave up with her and two others in very similar situations.  (Coincidentally, two of the three were commited urban girls who subsequently took up with farmboys like me.  That reminds me of the Adele song, Someone Like Me.) 

This reflection was aided because, coincidentally, I have been reading a book that I Christmas-gifted to my youngest son.  It is titled The Jesuit Guide to (almost) Everything by James Martin, SJ, and the relevant section concerns what the author calls “Six Paths to God.”  Along with the paths of Belief, Independence, Disbelief, Return, and Confusion, there is a path called Exploration that seems analogous to my path to finding my soulmate. 

According to author Martin, the path of Exploration, with questioning and research, is consistent with common American values.  The benefit of Exploration is that, after a serious search, the explorers may find a tradition that is ideally suited to their understanding of God.  But there are pitfalls, too:

  • The danger of not settling for any religious tradition because none is perfect.
  • Not settling on any one tradition because it doesn’t suit them.
  • Lack of commitment.  Your entire life may be one of exploration – constant sampling, spiritual grazing.  When the path becomes the goal, rather than God, people may ultimately find themselves unfulfilled, confused, lost, and maybe even a little sad.

I suspect that these pitfalls are hindering my search for a soulmate, and I will keep them in mind as I roll into 2013.

Getting back to Les Misérables, the Rotten Tomato critics score it at a modest 73% and the audience gives it a stellar 86%.  I agree with the critics and give it three stars out of four because musicals aren’t my cup of tea.


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