There have been three previous adaptations of the classic 1897 Cyrano De Bergerac play by Edward Rostand: a 1950 film starring Jose Ferrar (who won the Academy Award for Best Actor), the modernization Roxanne in 1987 starring Steve Martin, and Cyrano De Bergerac in 1990 starring Gerard Depardieu. All were good films, but the new version starring Peter Dinklage is a great one.
Cyrano De Bergerac (Peter Dinklage) is the head of the king’s guard on an isolated outpost in France. He loves the beautiful Roxanne (Haley Bennett, Swallow) but he’s too embarrassed to tell her to her face because she may not love him back. He uses the unwitting Christian (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) as his way around his shyness by having him write letters to Roxanne in his words. And expressing his love to her that way.
Joe Wright is an established director with very good films in his filmography such as Pride & Prejudice (2005), Atonement, and Darkest Hour to his credit. He has dealt with multiple period piece films in the past, although Cyrano is the first musical he’s helmed. The script is a strong point in how this film unfolds. That credit goes to Erica Schmidt, though. This film is based on her 2018 stage musical of the same name.
Schmidt creates a dazzling world in this script. Words that almost feel life reality come to life. You can feel them like water flowing down a river coming out of the character’s mouths, especially that of Peter Dinklage. He speaks every word as if they were his own. He’s had some great roles in his past, but Cyrano might be the best he’s ever had in his career. This character seems like an extension of who he is as a person, not just an actor.
Even though Dinklage is the star of this film, it also has very serviceable performances from Ben Mendelsohn as a Duke who is also trying to woo Roxanne, Kelvin Harrison Jr. as the innocent love-struck guard like puffy in the hands of Cyrano, and of course Haley Bennett as Roxanne. She devours her lines in the script and spits them out beautifully. She carries her own in this amazing cast of very capable professional actors.
One of the things about period piece films of films set in the past is the costumes and hairstyles. Wright has had to create these perfect scenarios of these past places before in his films, so these departments have to be on point. They were more than that: they were terrific. The costumes and hairstyling should most definitely be up for some awards this season. They helped make these characters come alive in this film.
Even though this film was based on a stage musical, the musical aspects aren’t the best. They are okay, but not great. Other musicals, such as In the Heights and tick, tick… BOOM! this year have been better as far as the musical elements go. The choreography was very good, though. The actors danced and moved around like seasoned professionals. Some of the locations on this island Joe Wright filmed the movie on were quite claustrophobic, but he used every ounce of what he had to work with to perfection.
Cyrano was a very entertaining film from the wordplay from Dinklage and others to the choreography and dancing by the entire cast. The craft departments such as costumes and hairstyling and makeup were on point. The sound and editing worked very well together as well. Wright found a nice isolated island to film this musical on during COVID and it worked beautifully. Dinklage will surely get a Best Actor nomination come awards season as well. He’s the rock this film stands on.
4 1/2 stars
Dan Skip Allen