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Les misérables (2000)
Good adaptation, but cut short... Spoilers ahead
After hearing several rave reviews of this movie, I was anxious to get my hands on a copy. When I finally did, I must say my reaction was two-fold. Overall, I was impressed with this film and it is the best version of the story I have seen yet. The film its self is beautiful. The costumes and scenery are authentic and lovely, the music fits the mood, and the script was well written. I must admit I have to question some of the casting decisions. While I admire John Malkovich, I found his Javert a bit subdued. He acts like he has just taken a Valium and is sleep walking through his part. The actor playing Marius is wrong on so many levels. His appearance and acting are a bit on the creepy side. The female characters fare a little better. The usually forgotten character of Eponine is returned and played by Asia Argento. Argento plays the part true to Hugo's description. I felt both pity and contempt for her. The real jewel of this film however lies in Charlotte Gainsbourg's Fantine. Her portrayal as a soft spoken, fragile waif who is destroyed by the world around nearly moved me to tears ( I am rarely moved enough to cry). Depardieu's Valjean was credible; he was not my favorite Valjean, but he did fine. Unfortunately for me, the only adaptation that I was able to get my hands on was the very edited English language version. Some of the scenes they choose to leave out were important to the plot. I was especially angry at the fact that they left out the death of Eponine. Without her heroic death, the audience is left thinking Eponine was a villain, rather than a product of her environment, but good none-the-less. Also missing is Enjorlas's death which is another tragic moment in the novel. The way I see it, this film could have been the definitive version to me if only the English adaptation could have been about an hour longer and tied up some of the loose ends. The French version of this same film is unedited (and unsubtitled, alas), so I think I would suggest that one before this version.