I’m not a “musical” guy. Love music. Love plays. Don’t necessarily love it when they are put together on a stage. And then I usually love it even less when it’s filmed for a movie. (Dare I mention Paint Your Wagon, the 1969 disaster starring a very young Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin? Yes, they were both singing, and like a car accident on the side of the road, you know you shouldn’t look, but you can’t turn away.)
That said, I liked the new movie now affectionately known as Les Mis. Liked the music. Liked the cinematography. Liked the cast. But most of all, I loved the story. This is one of those deeply-moral-old-fashion-and-in-some-cases-out-of-fashion stories. It’s a story about contrition and forgiveness, about serving humankind with kindness and gentleness, standing up for those who have fallen and carrying through on a commitment, not because it’s an easy thing, but because it’s the right thing. It’s also a story about our moral identity in the world, meaning that we are more than the sum of what we feel; we are also the sum of what we do, especially how we treat the broken and anguished of our world.
Take a Breath and pass the popcorn this week. Seeing a movie like Les Mis is good for the soul, because unlike most movies these days, this story actually assumes a soul exists in this world. And perhaps for that reason alone, the most resonate line of the film continues to shine like a star pointing us to the true north of our humanity: “To love another person is to see the face of God.”