What’s the Story: A man ahead of his time, Cyrano de Bergerac (Peter Dinklage) dazzles whether with ferocious wordplay at a verbal joust or with brilliant swordplay in a duel. But, convinced that his appearance renders him unworthy of the love of a devoted friend, the luminous Roxanne (Haley Bennet), Cyrano has yet to declare his feelings for her and Roxanne has fallen in love, at first sight, with Christian (Kelvin Harrison Jr.).
The classic tale of Cyrano de Bergerac has been told through a very of iterations to throw around a new spin around its premise. Some might consider Roxanne with Steve Martin as a prime example, while the tren crowd must be familiar with the unpopular Sierra Burgess is a Loser from Netflix. But Cyrano sees director Joe Wright take on Edmond Rostand’s character into the musical period piece nobody probably wasn’t expecting.
Aside from the fact that the studio did a poor job marketing this film since they pushed it back a couple of times during the awards season, there was some curiosity behind Cyrano. For me, I like musicals, but period pieces can be hit-or-miss. This also applies to Wright since his last few weren’t anything to love about, especially his previous feature, The Woman in the Window, was nothing but miserable. Although, he does know how to make an appealing drama with lavish costumes and romance. This past year was full of memorable musicals to hold an attachment to, but is the latest worthy enough to be in the conversation? Not that far, but it will win many viewers over if they know what they’re getting into.
It’s a story I’m partially familiar with, and my first thought was thinking this was a rare original movie that seemed perfect for Broadway. However, my discovery of learning this was adapted by screenwriter Erica Schmidt’s 2018 stage musical with Dinklage reprising his role. They’re also married, by the way. Though the vast difference of the protagonist is he doesn’t have a big nose; his short stature has him hiding his true feelings from his true love. Whether it’s the best interaction o the play or not, you can sense Wright used his strengths to bring this romance to life, finding an easy understanding of why Cyrano loves Roxanne so much. A tale of unrequited love involving the classic love triangle that will melt hearts to feel warm enough to work in some parts.
What unsurprisingly made this film watchable is none other than Peter Dinklage in the role of Cyrano de Bergerac. I’ve always been a fan of him, especially with his Emmy-winning work as Tyron Lannister on Game of Thrones. This was his long-awaited chance to show everybody that he could lead something big. He gave a beautiful performance that had me picturing him as the title character perfectly. Because of the enormous heart he holds inside, the sympathy directed at him allows us to notice—nothing more than a witty and charming man to easily fall for.
As for Haley Bennett, who was also in the stage musical and is Wright’s partner, this was one of the better roles I’ve now seen her in when she isn’t part of a mediocre movie after the other. The fascination of love flowing through Roxanne was rightfully earned which helps us understand why Cyrano loves her, her imperfections and all. Kelvin Harrison Jr. as Christian needed a more beefer role, but there’s no shortage of his charm leaping off each scene. And Ben Mendelsohn as the rich De Guiche was so recognizable. When I tried to point out who he was, my first thought was going to Richard Roxburgh from Moulin Rouge! until I saw Mendelsohn’s name during the credits.
The music was created by The National band members Bryce and Aaron Dessner, with lyrics by Matt Berninger and Carin Besser. Liking their music will make or break your enjoyment of the musical aspect; I don’t listen to them since I learned who they were eight years ago, though give their song “Terrible Love (Alternate Version)” a taste because it’s great. But as the songs here, some are more memorable than others, but I liked them quite a bit. They’re the type one would usually hear about blending into the century’s setting, and while nothing’s too special with the musical numbers, the songs are helpful to accompany a scene. I found myself putting on “Every Letter” to “I Need More” on repeat a few days after. The song I didn’t like right away was titled “Wherever I Fall,” and I now realize it wasn’t a sequence that wasn’t all flashy and had the most straightforward lyrics for how sad it now sounds.
But did Cryano move me as I wanted? It didn’t, and that was the disappointing thing. At a point, the story gets longwinded after 90 minutes, where I wanted it to be more on the romantic side since the battalion stuff didn’t interest me. More enthusiasm could’ve stemmed more just from being a play since there are moments where it certainly feels that way, both good and bad. Right as that hit, it started to drag itself out after a while, where the script needed more time to flesh out a couple of characters, making it less thematic. Visually speaking, it’s all fine, but something was off-putting about Seamus McGary’s cinematography.
Since it’s only coming out now and barely anybody has seen it, the love during this Oscar season fell short, as it only received a worthy nomination for Costume Design. But now that I finally watched this, did I think Dinklage deserved a Best Actor nomination? Yes, I would’ve loved to see him take that fifth spot that has him rightfully snubbed in what was a stacked category.
Overall, Cyrano was quite decent. It can sometimes feel uneven from its storytelling, but Dinklage’s soulful and witty performance and the songs themselves made this musical adaptation mildly pleasant. I might’ve not loved it as much as others when it could’ve been more cinematic, but those familiar will embrace it more to care for their effectiveness.
Grade: (6/10) B-
Cyrano is now available on Video On Demand (VOD). Runtime: 123 Minutes. Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures