Peter Dinklage stars as tortured romantic hero Cyrano de Bergerac in a take on the 2018 stage musical adapted by his wife Erica Schmidt. Cyrano believes that his social position as a guard, as well as his physical appearance, automatically bar him from the affections of Roxanne (Haley Bennett). In keeping with previous iterations of the 19th century French play on which the story is based, the poetically-inclined Cyrano ghostwrites love letters for the plodding new recruit that has caught Roxanne’s eye: Christian de Neuvillette (Waves’ Kelvin Harrison Jr).
Fans of big movie musicals, like Steven Spielberg’s recent remake of West Side Story, will be disappointed by the relatively muted songs of Cyrano. This is a more traditional telling of the tale compared to the edgier James McAvoy version on stage. However, this version of its bittersweet love triangle is well-served by its three earnest performers – as singers and actors. Dinklage, in particular, stands out with a low, velvety rumble that is tinged with longing and pain in his musical moments. Bennett ably portrays Roxanne as Cyrano’s artistic equal as opposed to a static object of desire, although Harrison’s angelic voice is sadly underused as Christian.
Director Joe Wright, of Pride & Prejudice and Anna Karenina fame, continues to deliver cinematic grace notes to otherwise literary fare: a swooping shot there to emulate the giddy thrill of romance; a crackling collage of mirrors here to establish the fragmented nature of perception when it comes to matters of the uncertain heart.
It always wears its heart on its sleeve – even when its main character keeps his hidden
Filmed in Sicily, Cyrano has a great sense of place: the courtyard behind a bakery is completely caked in white flour, while nocturnal streets are bathed in cool shadows where shards of light from doorways and balconies pierce the darkness. It works to embed the characters in its courtly world in fun visual ways.
Built on its three co-leads’ emotionally authentic turns, this Cyrano is sure to tug on heartstrings. It’s an old-fashioned film that always wears its heart on its sleeve – even when its main character keeps his hidden.
In cinemas worldwide Feb 25.