Cyrano ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali
Too self-conscious to woo Roxanne himself, wordsmith Cyrano de Bergerac helps young Christian nab her heart through love letters. Out in cinemas from Friday 25 February.
Cyrano’s tragic-comedy seems to be one of those stories which keep on being remade from time to time, whether we think we need a new version or not.
My favourite version is possibly the French production with Gérard Depardieu from the ‘90s, but who I also have a soft spot for Steve Martin’s comedic take in Roxanne from 1987. And it was only last year that Netflix released The Half of It, a modern re-tale, with a gender-reversed twist to it.
For this latest adaptation, British director Joe Wright turns to a stage version of the story from 2018, bringing from it both Peter Dinklage and Haley Bennett who now are reprising their roles.
Joe Wright had already successfully adapted great classic to the screen like Pride & Prejudice in 2005 and Anna Karenina in 2010 and he also had plenty of experience in war dramas, with his Atonement (2007) and the Darkest Hour (2017), but he does have some “misfires” along the way too, like the terrible The Woman At The Window and the embarrassingly bad Pan (a retelling of Peter Pan, which so bad that it even made me wish I was watching Hook).
This latest one has some interesting elements in it, but unfortunately it is a rather uneven film which often seems to forget it’s supposed to be a musical and even when it does remember the songs are so unmemorable that you almost wish it were straight drama.
In a time of ultra-stylised and extremely well made musical (West Side Story, In The Heights and even Tick Tock Boom), you really have to up your game if you want to compete.
However what Cyrano has got going for itself is some great-looking production value: from the wonderful Sicilian locations to gorgeous sets and the costume design.
And of course at the centre of it all, Peter Dinklage’s performance, which really anchors the film and elevates it.
While of course a lot of people know Dinklage for Game of Thrones, he has been around for a quite a while. I remember his very amusing portrayal of a grumpy actor in the hilarious Living in oblivion (1995) and his impressive breakout role in the excellent Station Agent (2003), where for the first time he was given the chance to showcase a whole range of emotions beyond just his physical attributes.
Now with Cyrano not only he is showing us he can sing too, but he also reveals a whole new side of his persona: charismatic, charming, loving and unusually smiley!
By dismissing the long nose device the original story, (which is essentially a physical representation of the barrier between him and his love) and by using Dinklage’s short size instead as the reason for Cyrano feeling unworthy, the essence of the story changes very little. But, together with Dinklage’s performance, it adds a whole extra layer of emotional resonance, which almost breaks the fourth wall. It’s difficult not to think about what it must feel like to be him and the result is at times even more heart-breaking than I had remembered this story to be.
If only the film was able to capitalise on all that instead of rushing through that last act and wasting time in pretty mediocre songs, this would have been a much more memorable film.
Its cinema released was postponed to 25 February (from his mid-January slot), following the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.
Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick.
Cyrano is out in cinemas on 25 February.
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