Okay. I know I’m going against the critical tide here, and, to mix metaphors, going out on a limb. But I loved Russell Crowe as Javert in Les Miserables. For one thing, I didn’t compare his singing with anyone else’s, whether they were professional or non. I listened to him for what he gave and the passion with which he gave it. I watched closely as his eyes flashed with the fire of a true believer — in carrying out the exact letter of the law. The Law was his god, though he believed he was carrying out God’s plan on earth. Russell Crowe made me believe he was this man — this ruthless fanatic — whose very existence depended on never deviating from the rules in his book of law, each rule like a domino set up in a vast and complex pattern. And when a man like Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) is helped back onto the path of redemption by an honest and Godly priest, he sets one domino after another teetering. And Javert must be terrible in his vigilance to set them right, lest the pattern of his own life come crashing down.
In Javert’s mind, The Law of France may as well have been the Law of Moses. Set in stone. Jean Valjean in his true honesty and devotion to others, sends Javert literally walking upon the very edge of the stone precipice of existence. Underneath his feet, the foundation stone on which he has based his life, and a millimeter away — the dark void of nothingness.
What could have set a man like Javert upon this “twisted” straight and narrow path, with no room for love or forgiveness? One line tells us he spent his childhood among the chaos of the poor, and his was a heart that longed for order. The law brought that order. It became his mother, his father, his family, his one true love, his god.
In Russell Crowe I found Javert, not only in the timbre of his voice, but in the struggle in his eyes and the unremitting stiffness of his bearing. What more can one ask of an actor?