Les Miserable, Les Miserable Movie Review, Movie Review, Film Review
Michael A. Maynez   photo

"Les Miserables"

“Les Miserables” was required reading when I went to high school, that was when reading was still in vogue, before high-tech took all the joy of great imagination from most of us.  Having seen diverse versions on stage as well as on screen, I looked with great anticipation to Liam Neeson’s interpretation of Jean Valjean. He is currently portraying Oscar Wilde, on Broadway in “The Judas Kiss”, hopefully he is doing greater justice to Oscar Wilde, for as Jean Valjean, he practically walks through this film, maybe not all his fault.

The material being so well known demands high expectations from so talented a cast.  You have last year’s Academy Award winner Geoffrey Russ, for “Shine”, in the role of Inspector Javert, he is no Charles Lauaghton who was pitted against the like of Frederic March in an earlier movie version.  Uma Thurman is a provocative , sensual and almost too healthy looking as the doomed Fantine.  Claire James, plays Cosette, or I should say plays at playing Cosette. Interestingly enough, after having seen the musical version in London four times (I always went with someone that hadn’t seen the musical)  I kept longing for the musical numbers to come exploding into the screen, maybe in time they will film that very entertaining version of this old story, even if Victor Hugo’s turns over in his grave.

The film is beautifully costumed and photographed in Prague and Paris, very reminiscent  of the incredible photography of “Amadeus”.  The picture suffers from lack of mystique, suspense and passion..  Liam Neeson is one of my favorite actors and it is very damaging to see him in a role that lacks the fiery passion it needs.  So much may have been in the screenwriter’s attempt into including all the supposedly rightful scenes remembered from childhood.  Misery will love “Les Miserables”

Les Miserables
TriStar Pictures/Mandalay Entertainment/Columbia Pictures

  • Liam Neeson
  • Geoffrey Rush
  • Uma Thurman
  • Claire Danes
  • Reine Brynolfsson
  • Hans Matheson
  • Peter Vaughan
  • Mimi Newman
  • Directed by: Bille August
    Produced by: Sarah Radclyffe, Jim Gorman
    Assistant director: Guy Travers
    Written by: Rafael Yglesias
    Edited by: Janus Billeskov-Jansen
    Costume designer: Gabriella Pesucci
    Rated PG-13

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    Original Date Thursday 4 June 1998
    Updated Saturday 6 June 1998