Victor Hugo's stirring novel of redemption and revolution is brought to life by the artistry of director Billie August and his brilliant cast. Liam Neeson stars as Jean Valjean, a heartless convict who is transformed by a single act of mercy. Uma Thurman is Fantine, the vulnerable prostitute who begs Valjean to raise her only child, Cosette (Claire Danes). And Oscar(r)-winner Geoffrey Rush (Best Actor, Shine, 1996) is an ambitious policeman determined to return Valjean to prison. A truly epic film, Les Miserables is magnificent! A compelling and powerful human drama with terrific performances by Liam Neeson and Geoffrey Rush.
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Frenchman Jean Valjean (Liam Neeson), imprisoned for stealing bread, is paroled after nearly two decades of hard labor. A gift of silver candlesticks from a kindly priest helps him begin anew. Forging a decent and profitable existence, he finds success as a businessman and as the mayor of a small town. He even takes in a pregnant young woman (Uma Thurman) and raises her daughter as his own. When a former prison guard (Geoffrey Rush) recognizes Valjean, his past catches up to him. Director Bille August culls mesmerizing performances from his cast, but loses us with an ending that panders to teen audiences. The focus shifts dramatically, and uncomfortably, from the haunted Neeson and his hawk-like pursuer, to his daughter (Claire Danes) and her romance with a handsome revolutionary. After this narrative shift, the script leaves behind the Victor Hugo classic's themes of revenge and redemption to focus improbably on teen angst--hardly what Hugo had on his mind. --Rochelle O'Gorman
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