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Is Les Misérables suitable for children?

So good I saw it twice? In one weekend? That’s Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables for you. After seeing it with the girls on Friday night (spontaneous applause at the end from the audience, a spontaneous weeping at the end from me – if Hugh Jackman doesn’t get that Oscar I’m building my own barricades and starting a revolution) I immediately booked tickets to take the boys to see it. We went this afternoon and a few mums have asked if it’s suitable for kids…

The answer is, it depends on the child. The prostitution is dealt with subtly and sensitively; it’s not gory; there are a few medium-rare swears, but nothing too blue.

The biggest issue you’ll face is the sheer scale of emotion. With all the live set singing, the sweeping musical score, numerous (tasteful, but traumatic) deaths and, well, the sheer misery, it leaves you breathless and tearful.

El adored Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter (who make a fabulous double act and bring much-needed light relief to the proceedings), but he did get slightly restless halfway through, when he turned to me and asked “is this actually an opera because there have been like a million songs?” He’s nothing if not observant, that lad.

But Gavroche, perfectly played by 12-year-old Daniel Huttlestone, unsurprisingly won him over – and if you’ve seen the stage production, you’ll know how things end for the revolutionary Boy Wonder (clue: not well). Cue tears, angst and borderline hysteria for the rest of the film.

We must bear in mind that El is Mr. Jazz Hands and spent 10 minutes post-movie watching his own tears fall in the toilet mirror. He was moved by those powerful performances and probably fancies a role of his own if Les Mis ever crops up at his drama school, but he insists it’s the saddest film he’s ever seen and will never watch it again. Yikes.

But I’m glad he reacted so strongly: it’s good to experience strong stirrings as a child. I still remember being traumatised by Watership Down. It was a milestone moment in my emotional development.

I think Les Misérables is broadly suitable for kids, but perhaps only if, like mine, they dig a bit of musical theatre and can (just about) cope with the strength of the soaring music and Oscar-baiting performances.

And El might not want to watch it again, but just wait ’til I have it on Dvd and it’s playing on repeat. In the meantime, here’s a treat….

Written by Johanna Payton