At the time, she performed in theatre during February 1999, in an update of Molière's The Misanthrope at the Classic Stage Company, but her performance was not well-received by critics.Describing her role in The Golden Bowl, the San Francisco Chronicle noted, "Charlotte wasn't the principal character in James' 1904 novel [...] but in the film version [...] she takes center stage.Despite modest box office returns, the film was favorably received by the critics.
In 1998, she starred as a British secret agent in The Avengers, another financial and critical flop; CNN described her as "so distanced you feel like you’re watching her through the wrong end of a telescope." Thurman found a more positive critical and commercial reception when she took on the role of Fantine in Les Misérables, the 1998 film version of Victor Hugo's novel of the same name, directed by Bille August.
The film was considered an "intelligent, handsomely crafted adaptation" of the classic novel, according to Rotten Tomatoes, After the birth of her first child in 1998, Thurman took a one-year break from acting to concentrate on motherhood, and returned to the screen in the role of a socialite named Blanche Williams in Woody Allen's romantic dramedy Sweet and Lowdown (1999).
She headlined Gus Van Sant's 1993 adaptation of Tom Robbins' novel Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.
Upon its release, the movie received negative reviews and flopped at the box office; Thurman earned a Golden Raspberry Award nomination for Worst Actress.
In Quentin Tarantino's neo-noir black comedy Pulp Fiction (1994), Thurman portrayed Mia Wallace, the wife of a Los Angeles mobster.