I saw it too and I agree with you that the casting was great! When I started watching it I was only planning on watching it for a half hour and to finish it later since it was getting late but it was so good I could not tear myself away from it.
Thanks for informing me that there was a live action version.
I immediately rushed to watch it, at first it seemed a bit awkward but soon it became a great 2 hours well spent.
Although it changed a bit of the story and rushed a lot parts, the film was still great and worth while watching. I found the actress playing Chizuru (Misako Renbutsu) catching my eye most of the time as she was obviously the prettiest female of the whole cast.
I reckon if they made it a drama instead of a film it would of been on par with the anime.