On My Own



I spent this past Saturday afternoon taking in the magnificent film production of “Les Miserables” with my dear friend, Wood.  I have never read the book on which both the stage and film versions are based, and I have never seen the musical and did not know too much about the storyline or the characters.  So, I went into the film rather blind and left completely blind-sided by the thoughts and emotions that linger days after the credits rolled.  I have so many thoughts bouncing around in my head to keep the mixed emotions in my heart company, and I am frustrated that, even as I write this, that I am not sure how to put them all together in a logical, yet meaningful, manner. 

There were many songs and scenes from “Les Miserables” that resonated with me.  When Fantine sings the achingly beautiful song, “I Dreamed a Dream”, tears clouded my eyes, as I thought of the dreams that I dreamt that had morphed into nightmares or had died before coming to fruition.  Fantine’s love for Cosette and her willingness to do anything to provide for her daughter touched my heart, as I thought of my own two daughters and what I would do for them.  “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” conjured up the images of loved ones who no longer are here to sit around my table, and “Who Am I?” touched on the themes of regret, redemption, and self-discovery that many people, myself included, embark on at some point in their lives.  These are but a few of the numerous parts of the film that left their mark on my heart, mind, and baby soul, but there was one particular character and song that absolutely crushed me.

While Cosette may be the face of “Les Miserables”, with her blonde hair and blue eyes, and the object of Marius’ affection, she is not the character whom I related to and rooted for.  No; that honor was bestowed upon the character of Epinone, with her dark hair and dark eyes and her heart that belongs to Marius who does not return her love and affection.  The love she has for him is palpable and obvious, but he does not see it or appreciate it.  Epinone endures the excruciating pain of helping the man she loves find the woman he fell in love with at first sight, and later, she listens as Marius and Cosette profess their love for one another, which she describes as “daggers” to her heart.  In the film, she is the quintessential gal pal who will do anything for Marius, but he never views her as anything more than a good and trusted friend, even as he cradles her in his arms dying, listening to her confess her love for him. 

As Epinone sings the heart breakingly poignant song, “On My Own”, which is about her realization that Marius does not love her and, in fact, has never loved her, and the relationship she conjured up is not real and will never be real.  Epinone realizes that she is completely on her own.  In that moment, she became the patron saint of gal pals and unrequited love everywhere, and I instantly joined ‘Team Epinone’.  I am not diminishing the value of genuine friendship, but sometimes, the supportive friend would like to be the leading lady who causes heads to turn, hearts to break, and men to swoon.  Who wouldn’t want to be Cosette with the happy ending, instead of Epinone whose life ends?!  I am acutely aware that real life is not anything like the make-believe world of the movies, but every once in a while, I would welcome life imitating art when it comes to matters of the heart.  I would love to trade my role as Epinone for a shot at being Cosette opposite my own Marius. 

That’s another story .  .  .

Categories: That's Another Story

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