Cyrano is a difficult movie. The sets and costumes are amazing. The acting is mostly top notch. Yet, I still felt something was missing. It’s a movie based on a stage musical based on a classical play. And rather than have a big nose, the titular character, Cyrano de Bergerac, played by Peter Dinklage is a dwarf but there’s only one subtle reference about his stature when he is called a “freak.” Dinklage has become an actor who has managed to make his size mostly unnecessary to his characters.
And that’s the problem with Cyrano. Because the character in the play by Edmond Rostand views his physical appearance as handicap or disability, it’s the reason he never tells Roxanne his true feelings. Played here by Haley Bennett, she does a great job as Roxanne and has a great singing voice as does Dinklage.
If you don’t know the plot by now, let me summarize. Roxanne is being wooed by the Duke De Guiche (Ben Mendelsohn) but she is also sought by Cyrano who refuses to tell her his real feelings, despite them being very close and friendly. And Roxanne even defends Cyrano when he kills a man who challenged him in the duel. A young soldier, Christian de Neuvillette (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) , also likes Roxanne, and asks his friend, Cyrano to woo her with letters as Cyrano is a better writer.
So, Cyrano pours all his feelings for Roxanne in the letters. Christian and Roxanne fall in love and then get married. However, there is also a war going on, so they are both sent away with Roxanne wanted Cyrano to protect Christian. And you can probably guess what happens next if you’re not familiar with the story.
It’s all nicely done and the set pieces, costumes design and actors pour their hearts into the roles. However, Mendelsohn seems to be acting like he’s in a more light-hearted movie. Harrison plays Christian very sympathetic. It’s a nice role but there’s never any doubt that he’s wrong for Roxanne except in his ways of expressing his love. There’s a lot of death and violence in this movie. There is a great song when all the soldiers, even those wounded, write what will probably be their last letters to their loved ones. But not many other songs (lyrics by Matt Berninger and Carin Besser and music by Aaron Dessner and Bryce Dessner) are as catchy or as memorable.
I guess I’m biased as I liked what Steve Martin did with the story in Roxanne in 1987. It was a modern story where he plays C.D., aka Charlie, a fire chief in a Pacific Northwestern small town. The Christian character is played by Rick Rossovich as a handsome but not too sensitive firefighter brought in to help Charlie train a batch of volunteer firefighters. Simply named, Chris, he’s more interested in having being with Roxanne(Daryl Hannah), an astronomy Ph D. student, in a sexual way as Charlie is more attracted to her.
Schmidt is Dinklage’s wife. I know it’s a sensitive subject with Dinklage’s height but even Martin knew a lot had to be spoken about the physical appearance. Cyrano just comes off more as a shy person, which undercuts the original story that people who may not look “perfect” or “handsome” can be valiant and romantic. At two hours, some of the songs could have been cut and as well as some of the scenes cut condensing the movie down by 15-20 minutes. I still think some people who enjoy musicals will like it. It’s worth it to see Dinklage and Bennett together.
What does thou think? Please partake in telling I your observations.