Eighteen months ago I did not hold the title "mommy," but on this day I do. And, it was with this fairly new lens that I watched the movie Les Misérables. I was invited to a private screening with my girlfriend who is a makeup artist to celebrities. It was a treat to be a "plus one" for the night and I was looking forward to getting lost in the film and not my baby's teething dramas.
But my protective motherhood gene reared its ugly head when Fantine, compellingly played by Anne Hathaway, hit the screen with all the pain and desperation only a mother could feel. With a heavy heart and hopeless, Fantine tries to figure out how to make money to care for her daughter. As a mother, I often wonder, "What I would do for my baby?" And the answer is, "I would do anything."
Which is exactly what Fantine does with heart wrenching consequences. When Anne Hathaway sang "I Dreamed a Dream" as a mother completely desperate, ashamed, and broken, all I could do was hold my breath and silently weep. Because the truth is, if I was an unemployed, single parent who lived France in 1815, I, too, would sell my hair and all my other body parts to save my daughter.
Throughout the epic tale, different characters reveal other aspects of motherhood with incredible clarity and honesty. In an early scene, Valjean, played by the talented Hugh Jackman, makes a commitment to Fantine regarding her daughter Cosette. His determination to protect this young girl is one of might and conviction. As I watched, I was reminded of my role as a mother and protector, a role that needs to be proactive.
While other characters set the screen on fire with their heart-filled resolve, Éponine, who is played by Samantha Barks, subtly illustrates how her simple acts of kindness, protection, and care can be so easily ignored by the ones she loves. It is a beautiful, yet tragic reminder of how we can sometimes overlook the little things that others do for us. While watching her final scene, all I wanted to do was thank my mom for all the sacrifices she has made for me.
One of the most delightful characters is Gavroche, a young boy who lives on the streets of Paris and steels more than just smiles. The boy, played by Daniel Huttlestone, reminded me of the optimism and spunk children have, but as with youth -- it's gone too soon. Throughout the movie I just wanted to reach out and hug him, protect him, and take him home (and give him a bath).
As the music moves from powerful crescendos to dark valleys, each character took me through a labyrinth of emotions with such vengeance that it was hard to believe that Les Misérables is just a movie. I am not a film critic -- heck, this was the first movie I've seen in months. But there was something so raw and truthful about this film that forced me to examine my role as a mother.
I was reminded that right now my daughter is young and unafraid, and her dreams are filled with hope and wonder. And that her world is a song, and the song is exciting -- even if it's "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" played 67 times in a row. So, as her mommy, I will do my best to keep her dreams alive.
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