Valjean (Hugh Jackman) serves nineteen years for stealing a loaf of bread: a punishment that he regards as unjust, though in fact it reflects well on the status of French baking. Had he taken a croissant, it would have meant the guillotine. In 1815, he breaks parole, vanishes, and emerges eight years later as a respectable factory owner and the mayor of Montreuil. There he is dimly recognized as a former convict by Javert (Russell Crowe), the local police inspector. These two cross paths for the rest of the film, with Javert in panting pursuit. Would it be too fanciful to suggest that they have a thing for each other, to which they never confess? That would explain why Crowe and Jackman, both tough Australians, are made to sing at so agonized a pitch.

Anthony Lane, “Love Hurts”