Les Miserables

1995, Movie, R, 177 mins


It's not the movie version of "Les Miz." It's not another screen adaptation of the Victor Hugo novel (which has already been filmed at least eight times). At just under three hours, it isn't short, and it's far from sweet. Yet this ponderous wartime melodrama, directed by veteran Claude Lelouche (A MAN AND A WOMAN), has some powerful assets, particularly Jean-Paul Belmondo in the lead. Belmondo plays Fortin, an illiterate boxer who reminds everyone of Hugo's hero, Jean Valjean. As he helps to smuggle a family of bourgeois Jews out of German-occupied France, they read Les Miserables to Fortin, who sees in it parallels to his own life. Dramatizations of key scenes from the novel also feature Belmondo. This is old-fashioned, tasteful European filmmaking -- words like "epic" and "sumptuous" spring inevitably to mind -- and it may well reward the patience of Masterpiece Theatre devotees. leave a comment

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