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Les Miserables  [DVD]
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Two-part mini-series adapted from the French classic by Victor Hugo, starring Gérard Depardieu and John Malkovich. Set against the turbulent background of the French Revolution, the story centres on Jean Valjean (Gérard Depardieu), a former petty thief and convict, who makes good after a bishop gives him a helping hand and becomes a businessman and leading civic figure. But his past comes back to haunt him in the guise of Javert (John Malkovich), former prison guard at the jail where Valjean was incarcerated, and now Chief of Police in the town where Valjean lives. Javert's determination to bring Valjean down consumes both men's lives, leading to a dramatic final confrontation on the revolution-torn streets of Paris.
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Top Customer Reviews
The cast realise they are involved in a classic tale and all rise to the occasion especially John Malkovitch and Gerard Deperdieu. After the first 15 minutes you tend to forget that most of the cast are not speaking in their native tongue and although a French language version may have added to the overall pleasure the cast did not appear to be too constrained by an English delivery. Overall a classic tale and almost classic delivery.
John Malcovitch by the way was also wonderful, his suicide in particular was incredibly well done.
But apart from the odd flashes of brilliance, which occured occasionally despite the poor direction, the whole thing was a shambles. For one thing, if they were going to make the film in English, one would expect them to at least hire actors who spoke English well. It is not the fault of the French actors, but quite simply, the characters in the book were not intended to be heavily accented. They spoke French, au courant.
The direction is very choppy indeed, as a previous reviewer commented this led to scenes being poorly realised, and almost ridiculous because the context was not fully explored. The most obvious example of this was the scene where Val Jean saves his fellow prisoner. The fire just appears, and this giant of a man (Depardieu) seems almost a cliché.Read more ›
Gérard Depardieu plays Jean Valjean, and, for me, he doesn't quite fit the part. He's too big, too brash to have the subtlety the character needs. On the other hand, John Malkovich is an excellent Javert, though his dispassionate portrayal of the character can be seen as a bit too distant. Christian Clavier is Thénardier, and seems a bit out of place. A comic actor, generally in simple comedies, his persona doesn't quite fit. However, Virginie Ledoyen is nearly perfect as Cosette, with her innocence and fetching smiles.
But the main problem here is that everything is too clean, too heroic and idealized. Hugo did not write a novel where everyone is washed and shaved; he wrote about "les misérables," the downtrodded, the poor. These are people who suffer, not people with clean shirts all the time. In this adaptation, everything is just a bit too perfect. (It's totally different from the recent adaptation of the musical, which, for all its faults, does show the characters in squalor.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
having seen the stage show and thoroughly enjoyed it, I was keen to see the DVD. It's very different, of course, but I'm glad to have it and will watch it over againPublished 17 months ago by Marion Mortimer
Why get French actors to interpret a French novel in English?!!!
A huge disappointment
One of the many Les Mis versions out there, my daughter loves this explasaly when Javert walks into the river.Published on 27 April 2015 by Janet