Miserables

Miserables

4.6 11
Director: Bille August

Cast: Bille August, Liam Neeson, Geoffrey Rush, Uma Thurman

     
 

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Bille August directed this Rafael Yglesias adaptation of the 1862 classic by Victor Hugo (1802-1885) about the quest of Inspector Javert to capture escaped convict Jean Valjean, originally an honest man who was jailed for stealing a single loaf of bread to feed the family of his starving sister. This new interpretation of Hugo's epic begins with Valjean (Liam Neeson),… See more details below

Overview

Bille August directed this Rafael Yglesias adaptation of the 1862 classic by Victor Hugo (1802-1885) about the quest of Inspector Javert to capture escaped convict Jean Valjean, originally an honest man who was jailed for stealing a single loaf of bread to feed the family of his starving sister. This new interpretation of Hugo's epic begins with Valjean (Liam Neeson), released after 20 years of cruelties and hard labor, reporting for parole in Dijon. Stopping at a bishop's house, he's treated with respect, but even so, he steals silverware, flees, and is captured. However, the bishop says the silverware was a gift, proving Valjean's innocence by giving him two silver candlesticks. Valjean is free, but the bishop asks him to treat others with equal kindness. By 1822, Valjean has risen to mayor of the village of Vigau, where he also maintains a successful factory. Joining the local police, Inspector Javert (Geoffrey Rush) is suspicious of Valjean's identity and eventually recognizes him as a former convict, but Javert has no proof when he carries his accusations to Paris. Valjean develops a relationship with Fantine (Uma Thurman), who lost her factory job because of local attitudes about her illegitimate daughter. The starving Fantine turns to prostitution, is arrested and tortured by Javert, and becomes ill. As she dies, Valjean promises to raise her daughter Cosette. Focusing on Valjean's life with Cosette (Claire Danes), the story is set amid the action of the July 1832 Revolution, a time when Cosette falls in love with a militant student, Marius (Hans Matheson). On the banks of the Seine, Valjean and Javert have their final confrontation.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Karl Williams
When dealing with a source material that's been adapted so frequently into film, it's extremely difficult not to compare and contrast any new effort with what's gone before. Taken on its own merits, however, this version of the Victor Hugo classic is a solid and entertaining adaptation, if too cold and austere. Liam Neeson is a thoroughly credible Valjean, especially during the opening sequences when the protagonist is still a criminal. With his looming physicality, the actor pulls off a palpable sense of threat that makes accepting him as a public menace that much easier. Neeson's interpretation of the role is a reminder of how many of the actors who have filled Valjean's shoes in the past have portrayed him as a tragic victim of unavoidable circumstance so that his later transformation seems more believable (and their own personas remain heroically intact). Here, the star goes for a sense of his character as a genuine thief, and it's a small but important thrill. If his later, reformed Valjean is too brittle and removed, it's understandable in contrast to his earlier incarnation. It also makes way for the searing performance of Geoffrey Rush as Javert, one of the finer depictions of the role. Rush brings to life the ramrod steel of his villain's outer shell, but manages at all turns to remain sympathetic. This is no small feat in a part that could easily be played by someone less subtle as a teeth-gnashing demon. Elements such as music, costuming, set design, and location are first rate, combining with the two lead performances to make a mostly successful production. Les Miserables (1998) weakens when the female characters are onscreen. Neither the tragic scenes involving the death of Fantine (Uma Thurman) nor the burgeoning romance of Cosette (Claire Danes) with a political dissident ever really become emotionally engaging. It looks fantastic and its male leads are doing some of their best work, but Les Miserables (1998) doesn't evoke the feelings that it should. That's a flaw in such a sweeping, ardent tale.

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Product Details

Release Date:
12/11/2012
UPC:
0043396415195
Original Release:
1998
Rating:
PG13
Source:
Sony Pictures
Region Code:
ABC
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Sound:
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Time:
2:14:00
Sales rank:
746

Special Features

A First Look at Les Misérables

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Liam Neeson Jean Valjean
Geoffrey Rush Javert
Uma Thurman Fantine
Claire Danes Cosette
Hans Matheson Marius
Reine Brynolfsson Captain Beauvais
Peter Vaughan Bishop
Mimi Newman Cosette (age 8)
Toby Jones Door Keeper
Kathleen Byron Actor

Technical Credits
Bille August Director
Anna Asp Production Designer
Janus Billeskov-Jensen Editor
Jean-Francois Casamayou Executive Producer
David John & the Mood Sound/Sound Designer
Leonora Davis Casting
James Gorman Producer
Peter Grant Art Director
Caroline Hewitt Co-producer
Jörgen Persson Cinematographer
Gabriella Pescucci Costumes/Costume Designer
Basil Poledouris Score Composer
Sarah Radclyffe Producer
Guy Travers Asst. Director
Rafael Yglesias Screenwriter

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