I've never read the book, but my first experience with Les Miserables was in San Francisco for the musical. I wasn't impressed with it. It seemed to exalt some of the more perverse scenes rather than focusing on the plot and story line. However, I had caught a portion of the movie version on Bravo television and was absolutely hooked. The movie was soooo long, that I could never sit down and watch it in its entirety even though I had tried to almost three times. I decided to purchase my own dvd copy and watch it from front to end. I love the intense drama, the religious themes of grace vs. truth, and the absolute clash of both forces in the lives of its characters. I felt completely sorry for Fantine (Uma Thurman) who caused you to feel her pain and so empathize with the heart behind her poor decisions. The only part of the movie that didn't catch hold very strongly was the relationships between Cosette (Fantine's illegitimate daughter) and the young political revolutionary. That part had so much potential to make it a fantastic ending but it simply fell flat and didn't give the movie the pizazz ending that it needed to be complete. I felt the suicide of Javert was probably the highpoint of the movie but thats where it started to lose its impact. I still recommend it as a very powerful movie to watch even if it has some imperfections in its dramatic completeness.