Les Misérables (1995) - Rotten Tomatoes

Les Misérables1995

Les Misérables (1995)



Critic Consensus: Claude Lelouch's Les Misérables takes some surprising liberties with the source material, proving a classic story often holds up regardless of how it's told.

Les Misérables Photos

Movie Info

Utilizing an all-star French cast, lavish production values, and a lush score created by three composers, Claude Lelouch's three-hour-long epic reworks Victor Hugo's classic tale and proves that it is still relevant for late-20th century audiences. Hugo's protagonist Jean Valjean, who gets out of jail -- imprisoned for stealing bread -- and finds his attempts to lead a better life constantly thwarted by an obsessive police inspector, is represented by Fortin (Jean Paul Belmondo), a turn-of-the-century chauffeur who is sentenced to 30 years for the murder of his employer following a New Year's Eve celebration. Actually, Fortin is innocent, for his boss committed suicide, but who would listen to a lowly chauffeur? During his incarceration, Fortin's wife becomes so desperately poor that she must sell her body to the lecherous innkeeper for whom she works in order to feed her hungry family. Unable to stand the shame of her actions, the wife hangs herself, leaving her young son Fortin, Jr, to be shuffled from family to family until he is grown. As a result, young Fortin is poorly educated and cannot read; he becomes a champion prizefighter (played by Belmondo's son Paul). Back in prison, the elder Fortin engineers an escape. A betrayer thwarts his plans and in despair, Fortin also kills himself. The story jumps to 1931. By this time Fortin the prizefighter (Jean Paul Belmondo again) has left the ring, purchased a truck and has become a furniture mover. He still cannot read and therefore does not understand when people compare him to Jean Valjean, the protagonist of Hugo's Les Miserables. Ziman is a Jewish lawyer who with his beautiful ballerina wife and daughter wants to flee his opulent Parisian life when the Nazis storm the city. Ziman offers the reluctant Fortin a fortune to take him and his family to the safety of Switzerland. Fortin, however, is not interested in the money. Instead he asks that Ziman read for him a book that he purchased from a bookseller. The book is Les Miserables. In telling this multi-layered, operatic tale, Lelouch points out that Hugo's characters are archetypes for the human condition. Despite the many changes and so-called improvement wrought in the 20th century, the world will be always be populated by the good, the heroic, the cowardly, the selfless, the greedy, the lucky and the tragic. Though Lelouch utilized a stellar French cast ranging from veteran Jean Marais to Annie Girardot (a formerly popular star who made her comeback in this film and won a Cesar for her efforts), it is Jean Paul Belmondo's charismatic performance as the two Fortins that brings this beautifully photographed melodramatic tale to life.


Jean-Paul Belmondo
as Henri Fortin/Roger Fortin/Jean Valjean
Michel Boujenah
as Andre Ziman
Annie Girardot
as Farmer's Wife
Clémentine Célarié
as Catherine/Fantine
as Thenardier
Ticky Holgado
as L'Addition
Salomé Lelouch
as Salomé Ziman
Philippe Khorsand
as Policeman/Javert
as La fille Ziman
Nicole Croisille
as Thenardiere 1830/1990
Jean Marais
as Bishop Myriel
Micheline Presle
as The Mother Superior
Darry Cowl
as The Bookseller
Cyrielle Claire
as Countess of the Ball
Margot Abascal
as Salomé (age 18)
Marie Bunel
as Young Jewish Woman
Nathalie Cerda
as Young Jewish Woman
Jean-François Dérec
as Smuggler of Jura
Valerio Gamberini
as Small Chimney Sweep
Maurice Mons
as Bad Neighbor
Anne-Marie Pisani
as Young Jewish Woman
Wolfgang Pissors
as Bunker Officer
Isabelle Sadoyan
as Mme. Magloire
Marie-France Santon
as Faithful Neighbor
Peter Semler
as German Officer
Guillaume Souchet
as Henri Fortin (age 9)
Antoine Duléry
as Crazy Thug
Jacques Gamblin
as Churchwarden
Pierre Vernier
as Penal Colony Leader
Sylvie Joly
as Beach Innkeeper
Robert Hossein
as Master of Ceremonies
Daniel Toscan du Plantier
as Count of Villeneuve
View All

Critic Reviews for Les Misérables

All Critics (21) | Top Critics (10)

At the end it is [Lelouch's] underlying belief in simple decency -- and a smart dignified performance by Jean Paul Belmondo -- that redeems him It is only fitting.

August 18, 2021 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

The family reads the Hugo novel aloud to him while they travel together, and apparently they all come to realize how much their lives are like great literature.

January 15, 2008 | Full Review…

It's part of the magic Lelouch has worked that his story-of-all-stories theme matches the catch-all inclusiveness of his old-fashioned celluloid showmanship.

June 24, 2006 | Full Review…

Aspectacular-looking film with those great settings and costumes that are a hallmark of French period films.

August 15, 2002 | Rating: 4.5/5 | Full Review…

Lelouch overworks this narrative scheme terribly: By reiterating his point and leaving nothing to our imagination, his cross-referencing shtick turns dull and belabored.

January 1, 2000 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

If it were shorter, we wouldn't know what misery really feels like.

January 1, 2000 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Les Misérables


A great adaption of Les Miserable to WW2.

Anthony Valletta
Anthony Valletta

Super Reviewer

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