Les Miserables - 1998 (DVD)

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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.

*This product is recertified and packaging may be substandard.

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