Hey, remember how on February 1st I was all, “next week, I’ll put up part 2 of my Les Mis thing!”
So here’s Part the Next, and Part the Third will be arriving at some point in the future. That’s about as firm a deadline as I can give you. Enjoy.
We open 8 years later with people singing about how much their lives suck, just in case you forgot what you were watching. It’s Les Mis. Mis is short for Misery.
Here, we meet Fantine, a down-on-her luck miserable person working in a factory with several most miserable people. In a plot twist that will surprise absolutely no one, their boss is somewhat of a total fuck nugget.
Charming. The foreman is also approximately 20 feet tall, what the hell?
The workers immediately take to picking on Fantine, mainly just to make her life harder.
Blue lady: “Oh, you have an illegitimate child tucked away somewhere, do you? I consider it my God-given duty to punish you through song.”
Luckily, the boss, and the hero of our story, Jean Valjean rushes to the scene.
Only to immediately pass the buck back to the foreman.
Way to go, Valjean. Fantine, who not only will not have sex with the foreman, but has a child and therefore must, at some point in the past, have had sex with another man who is not the foreman, the whore, is immediately fired.
Having been branded a whore, and this being 19th Century France, there is only one thing Fantine can now do.
She becomes an actual whore.
Fantine’s story in the book is, I think, the most depressing thing I have ever read. I feel a list coming on.
- abandoned by lover
- while pregnant
- to raise the baby by herself
- unable to do so, she puts the baby into the care of another family
- who, unbeknownst to her, are horrible horrible people
- they demand money from her
- so she works and works and works to send money for her daughter to people who don’t need it and won’t use it for her daughter anyway
- so she’s alone in the world, without even the company of her own daughter, working for pittance which won’t even go to good use. but at least she has her health. and her teeth.
- HA! She is fired from her job for no real reason except she’s not slutty enough for the foreman and everyone else is too busy looking out for themselves to take her side
- so she turns to prostitution for money
- she is debased and physically, mentally, and emotionally abused
- she sells her body for money, her hair for money, her teeth for money.
- then she loses her health
- on her sick bed, she doesn’t even survive long enough to say goodbye to her daughter.
And you think you had it bad, Sirius Black.
Aw, Fantine. I wish I could say things will get better. But they really, really won’t.
And now it is time for Lovely ladies.
The guys give it their all, though.
Sigh. You know a musical is depressing when its comic relief songs involve swindling, abuse, and prostitution. Although I guess a title that literally translates to “The Miserable People” is also a bit of a giveaway.
Fantine sells her hair, and a guy immediately decides that she is the whole he must have. He must have been attracted by the light glancing off her skull.
A dandy comes around, asking after Fantine. He is directed to her by a Lovely Lady who calles her “A bit of skirt, she’s the one sold her hair.”
Well, yes, I should think that much was obvious.
The guy who plays the rich asshole does a great job. I’m simultaneously disgusted and fascinated by him.
So he pushes himself on Fantine, who doesn’t want anything to do with him because even her utter desperation has limits (WE’LL SEE WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT THAT), and winds up injuring him as she pushes him away.
Good god, this musical.
OH GOODIE, JAVERT’S HERE! This can only go well.
The rich dick ponces around explaining that he was merely passing by when this LOONY attacked him out of nowhere for no reason, and he just can’t understand why people keep doing that.
Javert, would you believe it, I was walking through the park…
“When this prostitute attacked myeh!” Myeh! He actually says MYEH! Oh, he’s wonderfully horrible.
Fantine pleads mercy for her daughter, and then some dramatic music happens.
I said above, I love these sung-through productions, but the lack of actual moving characters has several obvious drawbacks, including the fact that Javert appears to be saying that he has only known one other who could rescue a prostitute, then stand still while the horn section plays something that sounds vaguely like Star Wars, and that seems like an awfully specific comparison to draw.
For those who don’t know, Javert has just rescued a man trapped under a heavy object, thus reminding Javert of this super strong hunk he once knew back in prison…
Valjean gives him the non-suspicious shifty eyes, and Javert leaves. But even 8 years later, Will Farrell’s guilt trip rings through time and space, and Valjean knows he has to turn himself in. Although, if there’s a brand on the skin, wouldn’t Javert just see that it’s not there on the other guy and release him? I’m being dense now, aren’t I?
Anyway, Fantine dies in Valjean’s…general area (seriously, this show has no staging) because god has run out of ways to torture here on earth and is bored now.
Javert has had quite enough of this and scares the ever-loving shit out of everyone by singing at Valjean as though he totally knew it was him all along, and what are you talking about arrested the wrong man? Who said “this time there will be no mistake?” And screw the random dead woman! Because Javert’s timing is impeccable (seriously, wait until you see the rest of the show).
They sing at each other some more, plainly not listening to a word the other is saying.
Valjean crosses his heart and hopes to die that he’s just going to go rescue the dead prostitute’s daughter quickly, and he’ll be right back, and then Javert can have his way with him, pinky swear. Javert is understandably skeptical about this, but I think Valjean would be as good as his word as long as no one waves any bread in his face.
That’s why Alfie Bo is my favourite Valjean
So Valjean tenderly tells Fantine’s body that he’ll make sure Cosette is safe and cared for while Javert hilariously yells some more about stalking him for the rest of time. Seriously, dude – READ THE ROOM.
And that is all for now! Again, thanks to Patrick for helping me put it together.