Les Miserables (1998) - Rotten Tomatoes

Les Miserables (1998)



Critic Consensus: This intelligent, handsomely crafted adaptation of Victor Hugo's classic novel condenses the story's developments without blunting its emotional impact.

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Movie Info

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. ~ Bhob Stewart, Rovimore
Rating: PG-13 (For violence, and for some sexual content)
Genre: Drama, Special Interest
Directed By:
Written By: Victor Hugo, Rafael Yglesias
In Theaters:
On DVD: Nov 3, 1998


Liam Neeson
as Jean Valjean
Uma Thurman
as Fantine
Claire Danes
as Cosette
Reine Brynolfsson
as Capt. Beauvais
Mimi Newman
as Cosette (age 8)
Tim Barlow
as Lafitte
David Birkin
as Courfeyrac
Patsy Byrne
as Toussaint
Kathleen Byron
as Mother Superior
Ian Cregg
as Feuilly
Ben Crompton
as Grantier
Zdenek David
as Peasant
Edna Dore
as Old Woman
Louis Hammond
as Letter Reader
Gillian Hanna
as Mme. Thenardier
Janet Henfrey
as Mme. Gilot
Shane Hervey
as Gavroche
Zdenek Hess
as Foreman
Gerard Horan
as Digne Gendarme
Kelly Hunter
as Mme. Victurien
Lennie James
as Enjolras
Toby Jones
as Doorkeeper
Jon Kenny
as Thenardier
Pavel Koci
as Coachdriver
Jan Kuzelka
as Furniture Dealer
Margery Mason
as Nursing Nun
Shannon McCormick
as Redheaded Gendarme
David McKay
as Informer
Alex Norton
as General
Zoja Oubramova
as Old Woman
Jiri Patocka
as Old Man
Petr Penkava
as Beggar Child
James Saxon
as Chabouillet
Petr Strnad
as Young Homeless Boy
John Surman
as Stonemason
Terry Taplin
as Prosecutor
Richard Toth
as Gendarme
Zdenek Vencl
as Messenger
Tony Vogel
as Lombard
Pavel Vokoun
as Sergeant
Jan Unger
as Officer
Joshua Wren
as Old Homeless Boy
Libor Zidek
as Wig Maker
Edna Dore
as Old Woman
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News & Interviews for Les Miserables

Critic Reviews for Les Miserables

All Critics (44) | Top Critics (11)

Without a doubt the most emotionally powerful and handsomely mounted production of the story yet.

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

The movie's whole virtuous conception of Jean Valjean sticks in my craw. He's haunted and hunted, but he reeks of a reasoned, noble superiority that's a pretty sterile quality in the hero of an epic.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Top Critic

It contains the moments of high drama, clearly outlines all the motivations, is easy to follow and lacks only passion. A story filled with outrage and idealism becomes somehow merely picturesque.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

It never sinks, but it never really soars either, though here and there it hits a powerful moment.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Towering over the entire film is Liam Neeson, the Irish actor who seems at home in any kind of picture, whether it transpires in contemporary America, World War II Germany, or centuries-ago Scotland.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Top Critic

Neeson's is an outstanding, memorable Jean Valjean who does a mighty job of anchoring this film and keeping its drama earthy and humane.

Full Review… | January 27, 2013
Antagony & Ecstasy

Audience Reviews for Les Miserables


24/01/2013 (Quickflix, PS3)

EightThirty .

Super Reviewer

A bit overdone, I think. Liam Neeson was the only strong performance. Uma Thurman was just too much. Sadly, even Geoffrey Rush didn't sell. Nevertheless, it has pretty, authentic locations and costumes -- so that's worth something.

Christian C

Super Reviewer


Stories of unjust persecution are always intriguing. What a justice system where stealing a loaf of bread is a lifetime prison sentence! I had to read Les Miserables in French in high school, and never quite understood it, so the details are interesting. I thought the acting was well done. Liam Neeson does great work, and Geoffrey Rush is fun to hate.

Red Lats

Super Reviewer

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