How the young and smart Leah Libresco can think as clearly as she does is a little scary. In her review of the new Les Miserables movie, she writes:
Some of the movie reviewers have called Javert the villain of the piece and implied that he’s motivated by vengeance or cruelty, but Javert is scrupulously fair. He is like a peculiar ascetic; denying any mercy or forgiveness to himself leaves him free to be indifferent to others. But to yield even once would damn all his previous actions. If he admits that mercy is to be longed for, then his idolatrous God of Law is dead, and he must look back over all the works of his strength and joy and righteousness in shame.
Javert doesn’t want enough. He would prefer a mean sort of fairness to grace, because it lies in his power to achieve one and not the other. By only accepting standards he can achieve, he betrays those who would have benefited from even his fumbling attempts at kindness. He refuses to become visibly imperfect in the service of a higher perfection
Law, grace, mercy, redemption, scrupulosity, asceticism, fairness, forgiveness...hmmm. I want to see this movie.