E: You don't believe in that? You don't think we fell in love at first sight?

A: No, I don't think anybody does. When we first met I stared at your boobs the whole time. I fell in love with your boobs at first sight. But I didn't even know you.

E: I fell in love with your glasses at first sight.

A: You did?

E: Yeah, I was really into dudes with glasses and at that time you had that big floppy John Lennon hair and little nanny glasses. And now you have a completely different pair of glasses, but I still like you. I think that's how love works — as your partner grows and evolves and changes glasses, you keep falling in love with each different pair. You find new things to love about them and their new glasses.

A: Very nicely put. Pithy.

E: But yeah, I hated the love scenes with Marius and Cosette too. Especially because Marius — he had a good voice, but he looked like a carrot. Like a cross between a carrot and a glass of milk. Like a carrot bobbing in a glass of milk.

A: That one scene where they meet at the gate to their house —

E: "A Heart Full of Love."

A: I swear I saw a butterfly on the wrought-iron gate that they were reaching their hands through, like a Disney movie or something. That was gross.

E: She looked kind of like a glass of milk too. When they saw each other on the street for the first time I thought, "Oh, great, the milk people are breeding."

A: It's true. I had no investment in their happiness whatsoever.

E: So what parts did you actually like?

A: I liked Hugh Jackman. I could listen to him sing for a while.

E: He was great, wasn't he? Russell Crowe kind of sucked.

A: He couldn't sing at all. His voice sounded like a whispery fart.

E: My problem was less his voice, which I thought was kind of cool in a rock-y way, and more the fact that he just looked like he didn't want to be there at all. And I've got to tell you, I was surprised by how un-hot he and Jackman were.

A: Well, Valjean wasn't supposed to be a stud or anything. When he escaped from the chain gang he had that shit beard for a while, with all that food stuck to it. All that shit food and dampness and all this moisture in his beard.

E: Ew! I didn't notice that. I just thought he looked like an artisanal beer brewer in Bushwick or something.

A: I also didn't like Marius's facial hair. I thought it was annoying that he had that cultivated unshaven look. Like that day-and-a-half of almost translucent stubble during the barricade scenes.

E: Dudes derive a lot of enjoyment from critiquing other men's facial hair.

A: I liked his pretty-boy revolutionary buddies. Actually, those scenes were my favorite parts, the revolutionary numbers, like "Do You Hear the People Sing?" and "Red and Black." I was stirred by them.

E: Because you like politics and history —

A: — because I like politics and history and it was interesting to see the revolutionary mood captured in this production, the whole "liberte, egalite, fraternite" thing.

E: And violence, don't forget that. There were some good battle scenes. Nothing as elaborate as in Taken when Liam Neeson shoots the guy on the boat through the porthole, but still.

A: No, I would've been astounded had they met such lofty standards. But the violence was pretty good. The standoff at the barricade. The scene where they shoot Marius's friends. There wasn't much blood, so it stayed very PG and kind of theatrical. But I don't need to see blood and guts to enjoy violence. I don't need the visceral images — I just like the sentiment.

E: You like implied violence. You just want to know that someone, somewhere, is getting hurt very badly, and you're satisfied.

A: This is making me sound like a sociopath.

E: Yes, kind of. But those themes of revolution — do you feel like they had "real world social resonance"?

A: Not when you say it like that. And put it in air quotes. You're horrible.

E: Sorry. Did anything else strongly resonate with you, personally? Like, I know you didn't like the romantic scenes with Cosette and Marius, but what about Eponine and Marius?

A: No, not really. That's one of my problems with musical theater — I don't think it's an appropriate venue for dealing with strong emotions like love without coming across as sappy and melodramatic. It's too reductive a medium for that.

E: I don't think it's reductive at all — or I guess I think it's reductive in the best sense. A ballad like "On My Own" just simply and beautifully encapsulates what unrequited love is like. It's not verbose or clever — she just belts out a couple of notes and the audience knows exactly where she's been and what she feels like. Actually, when I was watching that scene, I remembered something from the initial stages of our courtship. It was the summer before we got together and we were friends and do you remember I went to that party at your friend Cameron's house and you were —

A: — I was too stoned to talk to you?

E: Yes, and I interpreted that as a lack of interest on your part. I was walking home and it was drizzling and I stopped like a block away from my house so I could stand on the street and listen to Steely Dan on my headphones. And I just stood there for like twenty minutes, because I was so sad. I couldn't bring myself to go home. I just wanted to stand there in the rain and think about how sad I was.

A: See, that's a little lame to me.

E: Why is that lame?! You don't think it's sweet?!

A: I mean, it's really sweet, but I don't want to, like, see that in a musical. I mean, I'm sad that you thought I wasn't interested, and that that caused you pain —

E: — well, it doesn't cause me pain anymore, 'cause now I know you'd already fallen in love with my boobs and you were just waiting for a moment to properly express that.

A: And at that point, I'd already fallen in love with you.

E: [makes cooing noise]

A: But I don't get that through snippets of songs sung together. It doesn't move me.

E: So in conclusion, did your enjoyment of this movie increase your opinion of musical theater in general?

A: I mean, yeah, I guess. I'd definitely be more likely to consider seeing a musical now, after seeing this movie, than I would have before. The songs were good and the story was complex and — I think it just comes down to the fact that Les Mis a good story. There's a lot of meat and substance to it. Otherwise I don't think it would be so popular.

E: Do you realize that I consider this an enormous triumph on my part, and will hold it over your head until the day you die?

A: Yes.

E: Should I buy you the t-shirt with 24601 on it?

A: No.

E: Would you wear it in public?

A: No.

E: Would you wear it in private?

A: Maybe.

E: I'll take that.


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