Movie review: Cyrano
Joe Wright’s take on Edmond Rostand’s classic tale of courting makes a bold move that hits a bad note, despite an inspired performance from Peter Dinklage in the title role of a man who struggles with his physical appearance.
Starring: Peter Dinklage, Ben Mendelsohn, Haley Bennett, Kelvin Harrison Jr.
Directed by: Joe Wright
Running time: 2 hrs 13 mins
Rating: Parental Guidance
In select theatres, VOD
By Katherine Monk
Peter Dinklage stars as the doomed lover of Roxanne in this Joe Wright (Atonement, Darkest Hour, Hanna) adaptation of Edmond Rostand’s classic story of unrequited romance. Shifting the central physical challenge from an oversized schnoz to a diminutive stature, the film finds an easy sense of authenticity, and as a result, an added dimension of sympathy. After all, while we all knew Steve Martin was wearing a prosthetic nose in the last big screen treatment, we know there is nothing fake about Dinklage’s physical appearance.
The battles Cyrano is fighting for love, self-esteem and the art of poetry strike us as honest, and when Dinklage — as Cyrano — talks about his profound insecurities in the physical realm, we can feel the pain. There is something undeniably genuine in this treatment of the swashbuckling epic.
It sits immoveable at the core of the film, and yet, for some reason, that rock solid emotional foundation gets blown to smithereens in the opening scenes. Why? Because this treatment of Cyrano is a full-on musical. The songs attempt to find the higher realm, where art is able to transcend the mundane and monotone sound of reality.
The battles Cyrano is fighting for love, self-esteem and the art of poetry strike us as honest, and when Dinklage — as Cyrano — talks about his profound insecurities in the physical realm, we can feel the pain. There is something undeniably genuine in this treatment of the swashbuckling epic… and yet, for some reason, that rock solid emotional foundation gets blown to smithereens in the opening scenes.
Yet, this music, this book, this whole score falls so short of the required measure, it bleeds the film of its very soul. The whole story is about how Cyrano’s glorious flow of words helps him win the heart of Roxanne through the false form of Christian, a handsome guard and fellow member of Cyrano’s regiment. Christian has no good words, but Cyrano has the gift, successfully wooing Roxanne to the heart of Christian from behind the curtain.
The whole yarn turns on the spindle of art, the creative muse, and the irresistible beauty of truth captured in verse. So when the music turns out to be a droning, pastiche of cliche, it not only pokes a hole in the silky weave of the story, it practically strips the thematic gears of the story itself.
If a film is going to celebrate the transcendent power of art, the art has to be good enough to bear the weight of popular opinion, and sadly for Wright, Dinklage and the entire cast that also includes Ben Mendelsohn, Haley Bennet and Kelvin Harrison Jr. (Luce), the score isn’t strong enough to settle the argument — especially when a repeated chorus is “I’ve heard that line before… I’ve heard that line before.” Indeed.
THE EX-PRESS, February 25, 2022