This is the 15th big-screen version of Victor Hugo's epic novel, which begs the question: why? Les Misérables has now appeared in almost every language, been performed as a musical, in modern dress and in different settings, yet August (Smilla's Feeling For Snow) obviously felt he had something new to say.
Whatever that "something new" was, it certainly doesn't appear on screen. He's filmed a very straight, traditional version of Hugo's story, and for straight read "dull". Everyone wears immaculate but overly conscious period costume, and while the Prague locations make for an admirable Paris, they somehow lack atmosphere.
Liam Neeson takes the lead as do-gooding Valjean, a reformed criminal, hounded by his prison guard Javert (Rush). Thurman plays the fallen woman he takes pity on, Danes her daughter who he later adopts. Meanwhile, the French student revolution rages in the background. But with the characters lacking any depth, shading or the slightest hint of a sense of humour, this never moves beyond `acting' and towards an involving scenario.