Anne Hathaway as Fantine in ‘Les Miserables‘/Photo © 2012 Universal Studios
at last night’s oscars, anne hathaway won the best supporting actress award. i’m glad she did. it would have been an upset had she lost as she was the head-on favorite going in.
although i’m not a fan of hathaway, i was rooting for her. she was great in her role as fantine in the movie version of victor hugo’s les misérables.
fantine was a beautiful young woman from a working class family who fell in love with a rich student. after she became pregnant, he abandoned her. to add insult to injury, she was fired from her job at the factory for being an unwed mother.
to support her child, fantine was forced to sell everything she had of value including her hair and front teeth. when it wasn’t enough, she became a prostitute. eventually, she died of tuberculosis and was buried in a pauper’s grave.
victor hugo wrote his novel in 1862, but if he were alive today, it wouldn’t take him long to find the many faces of fantine in this world.
she is a single mother who left her personal ambition behind to be a devoted mother. she holds two full-time jobs in order to provide food and shelter to her children.
she is a young daughter from an impoverished family in asia who is sold by her father to a madam. she becomes a prostitute in some brothel to enable her brothers to get an education.
she is an undocumented immigrant who is willing to do any work she can find to support her immediate family. when push comes to shove, she ends up moonlighting as a hooker or dancer in a men’s club.
she is a wife from a developing country who is forced to work as a maid in the middle east so that she can send money to her non-working husband and their children. putting their welfare above her own, she has to endure the hardship and humiliation of being treated like a third-class citizen in a foreign country. worse, she also runs the risk of being raped and abused.
the fantine story is compelling because it’s a story that never grows old. it represents women who have suffered and sacrificed everything for their loved ones.