Cyrano de Bergerac dazzles everyone with his ferocious wordplay and brilliant swordplay. However, he’s convinced his appearance renders him unworthy of the affections of the luminous Roxanne, a devoted friend who’s in love with someone else.

Editing by: Valerio Bonelli
Music by:
Aaron Dessner, Bryce Dessner

Cast: Peter Dinklage, Haley Bennett, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Ben Mendelsohn

Directed by: Joe Wright
Screenplay by: Erica Schmidt
Based on: Cyrano by Erica Schmidt, Aaron Dessner, Bryce Dessner, Matt Berninger, Carin Besser & Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand
Cinematography by: Seamus McGarvey

The 1897 Edmond Rostand play Cyrano de Bergerac has had a long and storied history in film, with Michael Gordon’s 1950 version earning star José Ferrer an Academy award, Jean-Paul Rappeneau’s 1990 french adaptation earning star Gérard Depardieu an Academy Award nomination and modern retellings like Roxanne and The Half of It getting critical acclaim. With this new adaption, Joe Wright returns to the type of period piece that he built his career on but with a twist: it’s a musical.

Based on Erica Schmidt’s 2019 off-broadway production, Cyrano follows the titular character (Peter Dinklage) in the 17th Century as he is a captain in the army and well regarded for his skill with the blade and his incredible way with words, despite his physical appearance and stature. He is madly in love with his childhood friend, Roxanne (Hayley Bennet), but considers himself unworthy of her love due to his size and appearance. Roxanne has caught the eye of the rich and vile De Guiche (Ben Mendelsohn) who she is leading on to take advantage of his wealth but soon find herself in love at first sight with a young recruit named Christian de Neuvillette (Kelvin Harrison Jr.). After Roxanne asks Cyrano to help protect Christian he finds himself helping Christian to express his feelings for Roxanne through a series of love letters.

Joe Wright’s delivers an old school romance that is a visual treat to look at. From Seamus McGarvey’s cinematography to the beautiful costumes to the stunning locations, there is barely a frame that doesn’t look gorgeous. The plot of the film stays true to the source material for the most part but delivers different shades on each of the characters, with the most obvious being Cyrano no longer being just a man with a big nose. The film is a little uneven, with some events happening very quickly, particularly the ending, and there is the slightly problematic issue of these two men kind of catfishing this woman but I couldn’t help but be drawn into this classic love triangle.

Peter Dinklage gives one of the best performances of his career, perfectly delivering witty lines and showing such believable heartbreak. When Roxanne first tells Cyrano about her love for Christian after Cyrano had gotten his hopes up, Dinklage has a look on his face that rocked me to my core. His depiction of a man who believes he is destined to love someone from a far is sure to resonate with all those who have experienced unrequited love. Dinklage also looks fantastic in his dueling scenes, getting to do more here then he ever got to on Game of Thrones, but the action and swordplay quickly take a backseat to the romance.

Hayley Bennet is lovely, sweet and brings a radiance to the role that explains why these men are drawn to her while Kelvin Harrison Jr. is a great foil for Peter Dinklage to play off, with the classic balcony scene being a great example. Ben Mendelsohn has somehow found another variation on the villainous role he often finds himself in as the entitled and vengeful De Guiche.

Compared to other musicals that we’ve seen in the past 12 months, Cyrano is a lot more subdued. With the score and songs written by members of The National, there isn’t a breakout hit song in the film and there is not any epic dance numbers, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some great songs. ‘Someone To Say’ is a classic ‘I Want’ song with some fantastic visuals, ‘Your Name’ is a beautiful love song paired with some sensual imagery which is surpassed by ‘Every Letter’ which is incredibly suggestive and provocative for a period film. The song I find myself thinking back on the most and singing to myself is ‘Wherever I Fall’, shot in one take as soldiers prepare for what may be their final fight.

Lead by a fantastic performance by Peter Dinklage is a wonderful parable about expressing your feelings and believing that you are worthy of love. While uneven at times and not being the most showy musical, Cyrano is a beautiful adaptation of one of history’s oldest stories of love and heartbreak.

Ashley Hobley attended an advance screening of Cyrano thanks to Universal Pictures Australia and Five Star Cinemas.