Cyrano Review

There have been more film and stage adaptations of Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano De Bergerac than you can shake a stick at.

In my day, the most famous interpretation was 1987’s modern-day reworking, Roxanne; but the Steve Martin classic is perhaps not the best benchmark against which to judge the newest version.

Cyrano, presumably because calling it Bergerac would have UK viewers expecting John Nettles to pop up at some point, is directed by Joe Wright and hits cinemas this week.

Unlike Roxanne, which leaned into the farcical potential of Rostand’s story, Wright’s version is a heavier, more tragic affair.

An adaptation of the 2019 Off-Broadway production, the film sees Peter Dinklage reprise his role as Cyrano De Bergerac, a soldier and soon-to-be member of the world’s most painful love triangle.

In this version, instead of a large nose, Cyrano is frequently mocked for his stature, and defends himself with a quick wit and a quicker blade.
Beneath his bravado, he is deeply in love with Roxanne (Hayley Bennett), a childhood friend from his home town.

Cyrano cannot pluck up the courage to tell her how he feels, imagining that they could never be together due to his appearance.

One day, Roxanne summons him to a private meeting, which raises his hopes, but it turns out that she has fallen in love with a new recruit under his command, Christian de Neuvillette (Kelvin Harrison Jr).

Ouch.

Downhearted, but wanting to make Roxanne happy, Cyrano agrees to fan the flames of romance between her and Christian.

It’s a tough gig, and Dinklage compellingly squeezes every drop of heartache and pain from the role. So much so, that Bennett and Harrison Jr’s performances take a bit of a back seat; but hey, it’s not their characters’ names in the title.

The other performance of note is Ben Mendelsohn as De Guiche, the secondary villain of the piece. After Unrequited Love, of course.
Mendelsohn not so much chews, as devours, the scenery, particularly as he belts out and snarls his way through the song What I Deserve halfway through.

The renditions of the other songs are a mixed bag, but the tunes will dance around your head for at least a day or so after the credits roll. For my money the most memorable is Wherever I Fall, partly, I expect, because it features fellow Irishman Glen Hansard.

Lastly, the film looks great, which is ironic, given one of the themes is about seeing beyond outer beauty. Seamus McGarvey’s cinematography and the lush Sicilian settings conjure up a sublime backdrop for the story.

It is worth catching for Dinklage’s central performance and for the sumptuous visuals, but for anyone expecting light Steve Martin vibes, be warned that this is definitely more rom-trag than rom-com.

Conor Brennan

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