So, Uma Thurman has just fainted. "Wooter! Wooter!" JV snaps. Faster, dammit, or she'll dry to death!
JV's humble hut. Fantine is sleeping on the couch, and the doctor is audibly pessimistic. "I DOUBT SHE'LL SURVIVE. BETTER SUMMON HER DAUGHTER SO SHE DOESN'T LOSE THE WILL TO LIVE. OOPS, I HOPE SHE DIDN'T HEAR ME GOODNIGHT." The doctor prescribes TLC and a butload of nurses. Amazingly, there are no nurses in town willing to get up in the middle of the night to care for a sick person. Yes, I know, it's hard to believe how awesome their union is. JV is forced to play nurse.
JV takes a bowl of water and some linens to her bed. These scenes always remind me of "Teacher's Pet," an old romantic comedy, when Clark Gable is supposed to put a drunk friend to bed and doesn't really know what to do, so he takes off his pants. I mean, really, what should you do? Strip a stranger so they'll be comfortable? Because the discomfort of sleeping in your clothes for a few hours is decidedly less than waking up naked in a stranger's bed. JV finally decides he'd better take off her corset, presumably because it's still soaked with melted snow, or perhaps so she can breathe.
So, Fantine regains consciousness with the mayor fondling her chest. Pleasant. Rapeable. She mutters something about being fired again. JV tries to explain why he's changing her clothes, but she reassures him that this one's pro bono. Not that she's worth that much anyway, if tonight is any indication. JV, skeeved, decides that she doesn't need to change her dress after all. Fantine returns to her being fired, which I think is out of character. She just got saved from jail by the mayor. She doesn't need to push her luck by whining, "But whyyyyyyyyyyyyy did you fire me?" JV begins to explain that he's not really in charge of the firing process when Fantine, perhaps still under the impression that the mayor is a pervert, strokes his cheek. JV is more skeeved and gently removes her hand, telling her to rest. "You don't want a kiss?" Fantine croaks out. I would say that JV shows no signs that he's into sex, but this entire conversation he appears to be talking to her boobs. I think it's just an error with the eyelines, but seriously.
JV finally gets Fantine's mind off nookie by promising to have Cosette brought to visit her. Okay. Scene?
No, more shippy crap. JV will nurse Fantine with the milk of human kindness from the nipples of his social conscience, and then she and Cosette will live together in perfect harmony in a house with a white picket fence while JV benevolently rules over them somewhere between saintly grandfather-figure and creepy guy your mom made you call Uncle somebody who seemed to want to do it with one or the other of you, not sure which. "But you don't understand!" says Fantine. "I'm a whore, and Cosette has no father." Oh my god. That is so shocking. I have just literally fallen out of my chair. JV retorts that God is Cosette's father. By extension, Fantine is a virgin, and JV's a carpenter who's never gonna get any. "In His eyes you have never been anything but an innocent and beautiful woman," JV tells Cosette's boobies.
A few days later. JV visits Cosette and they banter. Because we all know what catty bitches they both are. One thing I love about this movie is how accurately the characters are portrayed. JV shows Fantine a letter, which she recognizes as coming from Thenardier, and tells her to read it. Fantine picks up the letter and looks at it for a couple of seconds before she realizes she can't read. That's a nice touch. I forget I can't read things written in Hebrew all the time, and I'm usually about a third of the page down before I realize that, to me, these symbols are meaningless, and I'm not actually comprehending anything. Fantine asks if JV will read it to her. JV admits he's just learning. "We're a fine pair!" Fantine says. Which, true, but go ahead! Mock the mayor! Mock his illiteracy! Maybe he won't buy you the house with the white picket fence after all!
JV says his discreet clerk says that Thenardier says that Cosette owes them money. JV's explanation is that Thenardier believes that Fantine has suddenly found a cash cow and is trying to milk her for money by holding Cosette hostage. JV's solution is to send Thenardier even more money. Brilliant!
A nurse comes by with lunch, and that ... gives JV an idea! Yes, it's to have a lunch date with Fantine. On his porch! This really helps to move along the whole "Fantine is desperately ill" storyline, to see her sitting happily outside and eating.
JV's office. The discreet clerk reads a letter from Thenardier, which is an amusing pile of bullshit. It says Cosette is too sick to travel, and oh! How expensive the medicine is! This is too much even for JV, surprisingly. He dictates the following letter: "M. Thenardier, you will hand Cosette over to the bairah. Regards." No sooner has JV announced his intention to skip town than who should walk through the door other than Javert! Yay!
"Javert!" JV exclaims. "I need to see you immediately. Alone," Javert says in an undertone. All right, then, keep your penis in your pants. JV sends away the clerk, who takes forever to write a single simple sentence. Javert tragically sets aside his hat. He says that one of the mayor's inferiors has committing a grave wrong. "He must be exposed and punished." "Who is the offender?" JV asks. "I am," Javert replies. It's canon. He wants JV to expose and punish him.
Javert demands that he be fired. Resignation is too honorable for the likes of him, the scuzzbag. He'd do the same if it was anybody else, right? March down to the mayor's office and demand his ass be fired? I love how messed up this guy is. "For God's sake, Javert, for what?" growls JV, expecting that Javert has murdered a prostitute or some such. "I denounced you to the Paris prefect of police," Javert replies. I miss JV's line, here, where he assumes that Javert denounced him as a dirty prostitute lover and had an el-oh-el moment, as we might say.
"I swore that you were a convict who had broken parole." "You said I was a what?" "A convict." Well, that's cleared up. Javert explains that he didn't really have any proof, he just thought that the mayor looked just like this dude, Jean Valjean, from a prison he once guarded. As he says this, Javert looks at him really carefully to gauge his reaction. "I denounced you without a shred of evidence." "You denounced me?" "Yes." Well, that's cleared up. Paris told Javert he was a damned fool, and they were right. "I've just returned from Arras, where I saw the real Jean Valjean." "The real Jean Valjean?" "Yes." Well, that's cleared up. An apple-picker whose name as inexplicably changed from Champmathieu in the book to Carnot was identified as being Jean Valjean in disguise. "I look at you now, and it's obvious you're not a convict." "Now you don't think I'm a convict?" "Of course I don't." Well, that's cleared up.
JV starts asking about this Jean Valjean fellow, like, you know ... how he responded to charges, his exact trial dates and the location of the courthouse, that sort of casual information. Javert reminds JV that he needs to be fired. JV decides to think about it as he gets his hat.
JV walks out of the factory with Javert, explaining that he really doesn't mind about all this convict stuff, especially considering that Javert is absolutely right, and how can you fault a guy for that? Javert is insistent. To him, the mayor's authority chafed like too-tight underpants. "If a subordinate of mine had done that, I would have broken him." Javert is hardcore, yo! "You must punish me, monsieur, or my life will have been meaningless." And into bondage and submission, apparently. JV solves this little loop in Javert's programming by ordering him to forgive himself, and then blame JV for being too merciful. JV would be good with those Star Trek robots that are so fragile they explode if they are introduced to a paradox.
Hospital or possibly JV's house. Fantine signs the letter. She actually seems suitably sick. JV promises to go get Cosette tonight. Fantine asks him to
Arres. JV arrives. Those who have read the book exclaim, "Well, that was easy!" JV finds the courthouse, but can't be admitted because it's full. "Jammed," as the guard puts it. "So I can't get in?" JV asks hopefully. "Nah. Not a chance." JV restrains himself from dancing his happy dance. I got to say, he gives up really easily. "Unless monsieur is a public official," adds the guard. "I'm the mayor of [Montreuil-sur-mer]," JV says reluctantly.
Courtroom. Jammed. With almost thirty extras and five speaking roles. Wow. The simpleton accused of being Jean Valjean is indeed a simpleton, as well as a very bad actor and an individual about whom one will find that, although he has many fine qualities, a resemblance to Liam Neeson is not one of them. Simple Simon categorically denies all charges except that of being an allegedly amusing retard. Example: "I'm a man who - oh, what's the word for it? I'm one of those who doesn't eat every day. I'm - I'm hungry." Marvelous.
The prosecutor continues with courtroom drama, calling three different convicts to the stand. They all identify Simple Simon as Jean Valjean. One wonders if the prosecution took care to check their vision before the testimony. JV waits till the last minute and stands up, asking to speak to the court. Instant mistrial! Ding! Okay, not in France, apparently. The judge allows it out of his great respect for the mayor. JV addresses the convicts in what seems to me to be an unnecessarily harsh tone of voice, but then again I am a puppies and rainbows type of person. He speaks to each personally, revealing personal things about them. OMG, the mayor is psychic! No, they all recognize JV in the end. "I am the man you want," he concludes. "I am Jean Valjean." Nice acting from Liam Neeson here, by the way.
The judge thinks that the exceptionally generous mayor is just trying to keep Simple Simon out of trouble. "When I was in prison, I was as ignorant, and mean, and devious as these men here. But not kind. And I wish I could keep my mouth shut and let this poor wretch suffer for me. But - continue with the investigation, Monsieur. You will find further proof that I am Valjean." Aww. This is making me cry. Damn you, shitty movie! Damn you, crooked part of Liam Neeson's nose!
And what I like best about it is that it highlights what I find to be Jean Valjean's most interesting quality. He doesn't necessarily want to do the right thing. It doesn't come naturally to him, and he has to struggle. That's far more interesting that watching a do-gooder who is good by nature.
JV leaves the courtroom without any resistance, and quickly returns to [Montreuil-sur-mer], arriving in the early morning. He wakes up his clerk for some emergency early-morning dictation. Being JV's secretary is the worst job in the world. I wonder if he wakes up his clerk when he has one of those dreams, you know, the kind where you have an idea that seems momentous, and you decide to write it down while the inspiration is still with you, only the next morning it's complete gibberish and trite.
JV's home or possibly the hospital. JV barges in. The nun/nurse is like, where's Cosette? And JV is like, oops. Nun/nurse says that Fantine is just holding on so she can see her. JV looks guilty. And he should feel guilty! He promised Fantine that he'd get Cosette, and then he wizzed it.
Police HQ. Capt. I'm Not Gay, I'm Just Loyal To A Fault tries to intercept a police messenger, but it's for Javert's warm, manly hands only. "This is a special warrant from Arras," the messenger says, importantly. Little twit.
I bet you can guess who the warrant is for. Javert reads it and has an orgasm.
The hospital or possibly JV's home. Fantine is very weak. There's no way the Bride would kick it this easily. "I was just dreaming about you ..." "Don't excite yourself." Your humility must disarm reproof, JV. Fantine babbles a bit about dreams and bequeaths her necklace to Cosette. Remember, the one that was worth more to her than her vagina? Fantine exacts JV's promise to raise Cosette.
"He lies so well, doesn't he?" Javert interrupts. No, I'd say that JV was a below-average liar, despite his compulsion to constantly do so. Javert is here to majorly piss on JV's parade! Fantine, not altogether coherent, believes that Javert is come to arrest her. "It's all right. He's not here for you," JV comforts. JV and Javert then basically do the Shrieking Shack scene from the third Harry Potter movie. You know, the one where everyone speaks very quickly and angrily and at the same time? JV offers to bribe Javert, which might be a step in the wrong direction. Javert calls Fantine a whore and a bitch and threatens to send her to jail, because it's all secretly her fault or something. Then he calls JV a criminal scum of the earth, knocks him down, and kicks him. Temper, temper, Javert. This isn't like you at all! JV instinctively grabs a piano leg that just happened to be lying around and half-swings it at the belligerent policeman. Instead of DUCKING, Javert smiles and welcomes Jean Valjean back. And it's really kind of shitty of him to treat Jean Valjean on the theory that criminal natures are irreversible, but then fully expect Jean Valjean not to knock his head clean off because the mayor is such a gentle fellow. Quite contradictory. The irony of it kills Fantine.
Jean Valjean drops the piano leg and holds Fantine's face for a moment. Well, at least with her dead, I won't have to sit through any more goopy, shippy scenes. Meanwhile, Javert takes out his handcuffs and looks at them. He is just about the worst police officer I've ever seen on film. I especially like how he picks a fight with a freakishly strong and tall convict with a lot to lose. But my absolute favorite part of the arrest is how he goes in the room without backup. Javert starts to cuff Jean Valjean from the front as JV says, "You killed her." Funnily enough, he also killed his believability as a character! JV easily hurls Javert against the wall and cuffs him. It makes a big booboo right in the center of Javert's forehead. It doesn't knock Javert out, though, so JV keeps pounding him against the wall, in a bloodier and bloodier show of violence. "Where will you go, Valjean?" *thunk!* "You don't have papers!" *thunk!* "I'll find you!" *thunk!* Finally, Javert goes down. Remember how I said the good guy thing isn't natural to JV? This is. The beat-down guy is. Also, let it be known that canon!Jean Valjean does not hit. Under any circumstances. Thank you.
JV turns to the freaked out nun/nurse and asks if Fantine repented before she died. The calm way he asks this after just beating the shit out of Javert is the freakiest thing. JV returns to arranging Fantine's face and closing her eyes. He kisses her one last time on the forehead. I guess I was wrong in saying that Fantine's death would preclude any romance.
JV exits his home only to run into the business end of Capt. I'm Not Gay, I Just Have Lots of Angst's gun. "Are you a convict? Is that true?" he asks. JV confirms it. Capt. ING,IJHLOA asks if Javert is inside, and if JV killed him. When assured this is not true, Capt. ING,IJHLOA sighs and lowers his gun. "That's a pity." Double-you tee eff, mate. We're talking about murder. Of ING,IJHLOA's colleague. Yes, Javert is an ass. Yes, Javert is the definition of anal retentive. Yes, he just upset Fantine and caused the change of events that hastened her death. But it's not like he bashed her over the head or did something really worthy of death. Besides, even if he did, ING,IJHLOA doesn't know this. Basically, ING,IJHLOA thinks that the crime of wanting to arrest JV for a crime he did, after all, commit, is worthy of death.
He is so in love with JV.
To prove it, Capt. I Am Gay hands Valjean his gun, and asks JV to make sure to hit hard enough to leave a mark. Capt. IAG takes off his hat and offers JV the back of his head. JV looks touched, and a little disturbed.
Later, Javert and Capt. IAG march through the streets, Capt. IAG very conspicuous rubbing his head. Javert's booboo makes him even uglier than normal. They march to the factory, where they discover that JV signed away ownership to the employees and took no money. Also, Javert is acting suspiciously of Capt. IAG. Like Miller Lite, this is a Good Call.
Money-tree. JV digs up the money he hid before.
Next we have an awesome high-speed carriage chase. I say "awesome" in the strictly ironic sense. JV drives until he comes across a poor peasant herding his ducks.
Javert insists on driving the carriage at a too-rapid speed, and crashes spectacularly. He doesn't care, though, because he believes he has caught up with JV's carriage at last. But lo! For JV and the peasant have switched places! I love how JV abuses his position as mayor and puts innocent bystanders at risk in order to escape Javert's clutches.
[Montreil-sur-mer]. Javert storms into the letter-reader's tent. "The hoor! Who did she write to? The address - give it to me!" From the look on the guy's face, you might want to specify which "hoor" you are talking about.
JV hikes to the Thenardier's inn, where the audience is shocked - shocked! - to discover that the Thenardiers are not the upright, lawful people that they'd like you to believe they are, and are treating Cosette somewhat poorly. Mme. Thenardier calls Cosette a little "slut," orders her not to complain, grabs her by her upper arm and very carefully shakes her. Then she gently pushes on Cosette's chest a few times to make her stumble back. It's like child abuse in a ballet. Cosette takes all of this with a blank expression that hints of mental retardation, and finally crawls under a table to pretend to knit.
JV, of course, witnesses this sordid scene of gentle pushes and developmental disorders. He's ditched his mayor's duds for peasant clothes, and is greeted the traditional way that poor looking guys are greeted in an inn, namely, "What do you want?" Thenardier looks up from his beer to manage his wife's transaction. She tells JV a probably exaggerated price for a room, and JV cheerfully agrees to pay in advance, dropping his heavy change purse on the table. Oh, that's smart. Thenardier leaps in to remind his wife that the rates have suddenly doubled. JV pays without hesitating. The Thenardiers's greed is supposed to be amusing, but it's really just tiresome. Also, fans of the book should note that if you look very closely, you can spot Thenardier's daughters playing with a cat by the fire.
Thenardier sits beside JV and tries to sell him some expensive food, but JV only wants to talk about Cosette. Thenardier explains that she's knitting stockings for his other girls. Cosette can't even loop the yarn around the needles, so I don't think these stockings will be actually wearable. Thenardier takes JV's questions to mean that JV is a pedophile. No, I'm not making this up, and it's totally intentional, and even reasonable, given how JV is staring at Cosette.
"What are they worth?" he asks. Thenardier thinks he's asking how much Cosette is worth, though clearly a singular pronoun would better apply to Cosette than a plural. If JV had asked how much "it" was worth, I could understand the confusion, but not now. I think Thenardier is over-eager to sell Cosette as a sex slave. JV explains he means the stockings, which Thenardier thinks might be worth 30 sou. Considering the original rate for a room was 20 sous a night, I doubt that they're worth that much. I mean, when's the last time you bought socks that were worth $150? Now, here's the real doozy. How many of these stockings were knit by a terrible seven-year-old actress? None, that's how many. JV pays for them, explaining that he is paying for Cosette's time so that she can play. "I meant 30 sou for each stocking," Thenardier says without missing a beat. JV adds 30 sou. Honestly, I don't see the point in him being such a chump. The more money he gives Thenardier, the more Thenardier will want, and the more likely it will be that Thenardier will try to hold Cosette hostage for it.
So, now that the Thenardiers are aware that they can use Cosette as a cash cow, Mme. Thenardier goes from yelling at Cosette to work to yelling at Cosette to play, dammit! She drags Cosette out from under her table, and shoves her in front of JV. What a great improvement JV has wrought! JV gently tells her to rest or play, whatever she wants, prompting Cosette to display her great acting skillz:
Cosette: [Looks at JV] [Looks at Mme. Thenardier] [Looks at JV with exaggeratedly wide eyes] Madame, is it true am I allowed to play? [Exaggerated glance at JV]
Mme Thenardier snaps, "You heard, didn't you? You must play! [Shoves Cosette] Go on, hurry up! Start playing!" Cosette crawls back under her table. Oh, what a great improvement JV has wrought!
Thenardier feels that JV has been unsatisfied with the transaction, and asks, discreetly, "Perhaps Monsieur would like Cosette to play on his lap?" JV ignores this question and its implications, and asks instead about the mail couch's route to Paris. I believe this information is supposed to have some consequence that I do not understand, because -
- We cut to Javert riding hard with some soldiers, presumably heading to Paris. He appears to be riding in the early morning, but it's probably supposed to be night. I don't get the connection, though.
Inn. JV announces his intentions to take Cosette. Thenardier begins to negotiate getting a whole bunch of money from JV. This is supposed to be funny, I believe, but instead it's a sad shadow of the manipulative bastard that Thenardier was in the book. This movie Thenardier is a fumbling liar and constantly dropping his act to drool over the money. Thenardier asks for four hundred, no, he means five hundred, francs to cover Cosette's medical expenses. JV gives it up, but then Thenardier tries for gold by saying it's not a question of money, while heavily implying he wants 1500 francs, and refuses to give up Cosette to someone who has no claim on her. JV takes back his five hundred francs and shows Thenardier his trump card: Fantine's signed note. Thenardier looks crushed. Aww, I feel sorry for the child prostituting jerkwad. I mean, he failed to scam Jean Valjean out of his money! That's like failing to talk Courtney Love into flashing her boobs.
I'm sorry to say that's the last of Thenardier and his family we see in this movie. Yes, we spent all that time with Capt. I Ultimately Was Gay And My Storyline Didn't Really Go Anywhere, Did It?, and now we are robbed of the actually interesting subplot.
The next morning, JV and Cosette walk towards Paris, following a stream rather than a road. Javert and his soldiers ride by, and the couple duck behind a tree until they pass. Once again, Javert's leet skills are on show.
Nauseatingly sweet music plays as JV asks Cosette not to call him monsieur. He suggests "papa" as an alternative. "But you're not my father, monsieur. Are you?" Cosette asks. Rather than answer that rather important question, JV picks Cosette up, and she giggles that she's the queen of France. It's nice to see that the abuse inflicted on her has had absolutely no effect. I mean, if it had, and Cosette was all damaged or something, I might be a little depressed about it; I might even have to give this movie some serious thought!
Paris at night. Paris is surrounded by a big thick stone wall. Everyone who gets in has to show their passport at the gate. I don't remember this from the book, but I'm sure it's historically accurate. These producers would never just make something up for the good of the plot. Instead of joining the queue, JV creeps through the bushes about ten feet from the gate. I don't know why he doesn't creep about thirty feet down the wall, where he will be quite out of sight from the soldiers. Ah, perhaps I have my answer! JV pulls out a map of Paris and examines it. Apparently he has a definite destination in mind.
At the gate, Javert is watching the peasants with a smirk. JV, perhaps sensing his presence, asks Cosette to wait in the bushes. He'll be right back. Cosette nods as if she understands, but when JV sneaks away with in a bent-over run, Cosette bleats, "Don't leave me!" The little moron. JV sneaks back and asks her to be quiet while he looks at that wall. "Oooooooooooh, are you gonna climb that wall?" Cosette says slowly. Yes, that would be the general idea. She gets the idea and nods. He sneaks away. "Papa!" she yells, running after him. He shushes her, and she protests, "But you told me to call you papa!" So it takes her ten hours to process a simple request? I mean, no wonder the Thenardiers turned to child abuse! JV gives up on communicating the simple idea of "stay put" and drags her to the wall.
Javert is joined by the Paris guy he talked with earlier. Javert tells him that JV will be on foot, and that Cosette will slow him down, but that's not what the Paris guy wants to talk about. He recognizes that Javert was right all along that the mayor of [Montreil-sur-mer] was the convict who committed the infamous crime of ... uh ... breaking parole, I think. Heinous! Needs to be stopped! Anyway, the Paris guy doesn't really care about Jean Valjean, but he feels so guilty about ignoring Javert's warnings about the mayor that he's had Javert transferred to Paris. It's impossible to tell if Javert is pissed or moved by this announcement. Meanwhile, a group of awkwardly uniformed extras will aid him in searching for JV.
JV holds Cosette piggy-back style, and climbs the wall. Super-strength JV turns me on a little. He tells Cosette not to look down, so of course it's only a matter of time before she does.
Javert has a sudden inspiration, and orders the extras to look for JV on the wall.
JV gets to the top of the wall, and creeps until he finds a roof close enough for him to leap across to. Javert is nearby. JV picks up Cosette to make the jump, and she screams, causing JV to finally snap. "SHUT UP! Do you want to get us killed?" He apologizes and tries to explain, but it's hopeless. She's just dumb. Finally he gathers her up and jumps effortlessly across the gap. And he would've gotten away with it too, if it hadn't been for Cosette's meddlesome screeching! Javert hears it and opens fire at JV's feet. I really don't think that he should be discharging a firearm so close to a building. I mean, they're in a crowded city.
JV and Cosette clamber over the roof and down into a convent. Outside, Javert and the Paris guy are arguing. The Paris guy says that Javert shouldn't search the convent, because it will upset the nuns, and the little girls in the boarding school. Javert and I can't believe this. Somehow I think that the women would be more upset by a CONVICT sneaking around a bunch of sleeping little girls. "I know he's in there!" Javert says, because he SAW JV jump across the wall to the convent. I mean ... !
JV carries Cosette into the gardener's cabin and wakes him up. Guess what. It's the old guy who JV saved from the cart. And his name has been changed from Fauchelevant to Lafitte. Explain that. "Now I'm trapped under the cart, Lafitte," JV says. Fauchelafitte boggles. He's very good at boggling.
Javert is talking to the nun through a peephole. He suggests that they gather up all the nuns and students and have them stay in the chapel while the men search for the DANGEROUS CRIMINAL ESCAPED CONVICT that has infiltrated their midst. That is a rather thoughtful compromise for Javert, but the nun isn't having it. Yes, she would rather risk being RAPED by the DANGEROUS MALE CONVICT than allow the police to search for him. The stupid is with the French tonight! The nun closes the peephole in Javert's face. Javert throws his hat down. Stupid nuns. Well, at least Javert has gone back to being the most competent guy in the room.
Fauchelafitte reports that he's passed JV off as his long-lost brother. No word on how he explained JV's sudden presence in the convent despite the fact that he never entered it. One also wonders how the head nun managed to miss the connection between the DANGEROUS CRIMINAL HIDING IN CONVENT and this new guy who is supposedly related to the gardener. JV will be the gardener. He's had worst jobs. JV asks if Fauchelafitte can also get Fantine in the school. "Who is she?" Fauchelafitte asks, reasonably. "She's an orphan. She'll be with me now." But in a non-sexual, non-creepy way. One hopes.