May 19, 1998 -- "Les Misérables" is one of my all time favorite stories. I've seen at least three previous film versions of this film, all of which are superior to this one. It's not that this is a bad film, after all it does have fine actors and it is based on a great story. It just doesn't live up to its predecessors.
One of the best versions of this story, albeit altered and changed to a World War II setting, came out two years ago. That French film, starring the great Jean-Paul Belmondo, is far superior to this effort, a true modern classic. Rent it and see.
Anyway, back to the 1998 film. Liam Neeson ("Schindler's List") stars as Jean Valjean, bitter from imprisonment for 20 years for stealing a loaf of bread. He is saved by an act of archetypal Christian charity by a bishop (Peter Vaughan) who makes him promise to start a new life.
Despite becoming a model citizen, he is relentlessly pursued by a former jailer turned police officer, Javert (Timothy Rush of "Shine"). Javert pursues Valjean into Paris, where he hides with his adopted daughter, Cosette, (Claire Daines of "Little Women") for years before a final, climactic encounter with Javert.
Despite the fine actors mentioned above, and Uma Thurman, who plays Cosette's mother, the film seems to lack energy, as if it were slogging its way through cold peanut butter. Rush, who won the Academy Award for best actor a couple of years ago, shows no spark of humanity in his role as Javert and Neeson's performance seems muted as well. This film rates a C.
Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.