An honorable and well-acted version of Victor Hugo's classic book bag-buster (not
the Broadway musical), a sprawling melodrama whose prodigious length and scope have bedeviled all previous adaptations and hang heavily over this one as well.
Rafael YIglesias' screenplay pares down the novel's subplots to concentrate on the iconic story of convict Jean Valjean (Liam Neeson), condemned to 20 years of back- and spirit-breaking incarceration for a minor crime and persecuted by the implacable Inspector Javert (Geoffrey Rush). Illiterate
and brutalized by 19 years of imprisonment, Valjean is paroled but can't find work because his papers brand him a thief. An elder...