And I liked it, I really did! But damn, it needed an intermission. We went to a 1:15 matinee and got out at 4. Movie trailers for half an hour, then a 2 hour and 38 minute epic movie, with no break. There was a stampede for the restrooms when it ended.
I had several friends tell me that they bawled throughout, so I was prepared: glasses instead of contacts, tissues in purse. But I remained basically dry-eyed. I am a hardass, of course - it takes a lot to make me cry, unless I'm under a lot of stress and then I'll lose my shit over spilled coffee. I did get misty-eyed when Anne Hathaway sang "I Dreamed a Dream" though, and that's saying something. She was amazing, just so raw and wrenching and runny-nosed, and the entire song is done in a tight close up of her stricken, blotchy, weeping face. I felt my normally cold, dry, cynical eyes welling in sympathy with that much raw grief. Just give her every damn award, already! She and Hugh Jackman were outstanding. I honestly did not recognize HJ at the start of the movie; his transformation was that incredible. They both deserve to sweep the awards this year.
I also have to come to the defense of Russell Crowe. I had read a lot of sniping and bitchery about his singing, and while it was easy to see that he wasn't in the same Broadway-caliber vocal class as the rest of the cast, he did not suck the way some snarky reviews described.
I had the biggest issue with Amanda Seyfried as Cosette. She's a pretty enough girl I guess, but not what I think of when I picture a girl that would make a guy fall in love at first sight. She's a bit pop-eyed and close up, a little odd looking - an offbeat and very contemporary sort of pretty, but not the sort of girl who would cause instant, heart-stopping passion in a handsome young man in that era. I thought Marius's instant infatuation was inexplicable, especially when Eponine was truly, classically beautiful and madly in love with him. (Samantha Barks also sang and acted circles around the bland, blonde, boring Cosette, and I'm truly horrified that they actually considered Taylor Swift for the role.) The tender moments between Cosette and Marius dragged the movie nearly to a standstill, to the point that I was grateful when the shooting started.
The movie takes full advantage of sweeping, panoramic scenery and is visually just amazing. I thought it dragged in some spots, mostly involving the young lovers, and a pee break halfway through would have been a nice touch. I am glad I saw it on the big screen. It's not a "wait for TV" movie, so if you want to see it, you really should see it in a theater with a great sound system.