starring: peter dinklage, hayley bennett, kelvin harrison jr., and Ben Mendelsohn
REVIEWER: nick tonkin
Too self-conscious to woo Roxanne himself, wordsmith Cyrano de Bergerac helps young Christian nab her heart through love letters.
Cyrano is a film adaptation of Erica Schmidt’s stage musical of the same name, from which stars Peter Dinklage and Haley Bennett reprise their roles. Cyrano (Dinklage) is a soldier in the French Army, a nobleman in another life, and has long harboured profound love for Roxanne (Bennett).
Unfortunately for Cyrano, Roxanne has fallen in love with the handsome, but inarticulate new recruit Christian de Neuvillette (Kelvin Harrison Jr.). As the two lovers cannot meet personally, Cyrano offers to write, on Christian’s behalf, letters of love and admiration to Roxanne. Time passes, and Roxanne falls further in love with the Christian in her letters.
Both of Schmidt’s stage and film versions are themselves adaptations of the 1897 play Cyrano de Bergerac and feature a few interesting changes from the traditional version. The stage adaptation and the film both feature music and lyrics from American band The National, however, the film’s directing duties are handled by Joe Wright (Darkest Hour, Atonement) with Schmidt providing the screenplay.
The obvious difference between Cyrano and the traditional story centres on Dinklage’s casting as Cyrano. The character Cyrano is usually presented as an intelligent, strong-willed man with a talent for poetry, while also possessing great skill as a swordsman. However, he has an inordinately large nose, which is the source of the self-doubt that keeps him from expressing his feelings to Roxanne.
In Cyrano, Dinklage’s Cyrano is anguished not by his nose, but his height. He allows this to become the source of all the reasons he concocts as to why he and Roxanne cannot be together. This change allows for the tragic element of the story to feel more real, less comical, achieved also through a compelling and surprisingly relatable performance by Peter Dinklage.
The production design of Cyrano is excellent, with impressive sets and amazing costumes helping to create a feeling of a time long since passed. There are some great moments of choreography and camera work too, especially in a scene where Cyrano faces off against 10 agents of De Guiche (Ben Mendelsohn) in a sword fight.
Cyrano is an excellent adaptation of the classic play, with great production design, wonderful music and a riveting performance from Peter Dinklage as the tragic Cyrano de Bergerac.