The Reel Review
Peter Dinklage stars in this musical adaptation of the classic 1897 love story about Cyrano de Bergerac – a man who ghostwrites love letters to help a handsome but inarticulate young soldier romance Cyrano’s dear lifelong friend Roxanne, with whom Cyrano, painfully insecure about his appearance, is secretly in love.
Forget the prior film adaptations’ bad prosthetic noses and 1987’s silly, screwball comedy, Roxanne, starring Steve Martin. This script, from Dinklage’s wife Erica Schmidt, is serious musical melodrama with a lyrical, operatic theme. It also smartly plays to his dwarfism as his self-perceived weakness – making the story way more believable. Director Joe Wright (Atonement, Anna Karenina) punches up the story with an abundance of ornate costumes and set design and some over the top dance numbers to offset the film’s forgettable songs.
Not surprisingly, Dinklage (Game of Thrones) is the standout in Cyrano, with a devastatingly heartbreaking performance. You truly feel his emotion as Roxanne breaks his heart. Haley Bennett (Girl on the Train, Music and Lyrics) also holds her own as the luminous and feisty Roxanne, with Kelvin Harrison Jr. and Ben Mendelsohn as Roxanne’s rival suitors. But the lackluster and often ill-timed showtunes and a lack of panache in the dreary story keeps viewers from fully connecting emotionally, instead longing for what could have been instead of what there actually is.
• Erica Schmidt’s adaptation is based on her 2018 play that starred Dinklage and Bennett.
• Cyrano received one Oscar nomination – for Best Costume Design, losing to Cruella.
• Edmond Rostond wrote his play Cyrano de Bergerac in 1897, basing it in great detail on the actual individual. It also introduced the word “panache” into the English language.