Director: Joe Wright
Runtime: 123 minutes 29 seconds
Cast: Peter Dinklage, Haley Bennett, Ben Mendelsohn, Kelvin Harrison Jr.
Synopsis: 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.
Award-winning director Joe Wright [Darkest Hour (2017), Anna Karenina (2012), Atonement (2007), Pride & Prejudice (2005) ] envelops moviegoers in a symphony of emotions with music, romance, and beauty in Cyrano, re-imagining the timeless tale of a heart-breaking love triangle. A man ahead of his time, Cyrano de Bergerac [Peter Dinklage –The Station Agent (2003), Game of Thrones TV (2011-2019), X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)] dazzles whether with ferocious wordplay at a verbal joust or with brilliant swordplay in a duel. But, he is convinced that his appearance renders him unworthy of the love of a devoted friend, the luminous Roxanne [Haley Bennett –Swallow (2019), The Girl on the Train (2016), The Equalizer (2014), The Magnificent Seven (2016)]. Cyrano has yet to declare his feelings for her — and Roxanne has fallen in love, at first sight, with Christian [Kelvin Harrison, Jr.- The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020), It Comes at Night (2017), Luce (2019), Monsters and Men (2018)].
In the tradition of the classic films that celebrate romance lyrically and visually, director Joe Wright [Darkest Hour (2017), Anna Karenina (2012), Atonement (2007), Pride & Prejudice (2005)] orchestrates a gifted ensemble of actors performing the big-screen epic love story Cyrano. This bold new adaptation is based on the stage musical by Erica Schmidt, who adapted the original 1897 play by dramatist and neo-romanticist, Edmond Rostand; it is filmed in stunning Italian locations, reimagining the timeless tale of wit, courage and love.
The score and songs are from Bryce and Aaron Dessner of the National rock band and Matt Berninger and Carin Besser. This new, musical Cyrano is a fantasy of a period, somewhere between 1640 and 1712 with costumes which are modern interpretations of period dresses: “As much Alexander McQueen as they were Jean-Antoine Watteau”, comments Joe Wright.
Peter Dinklage makes the iconic character his own, in a mesmerising performance. A wordsmith and soldier in love with the luminous Roxanne (Haley Bennett), whom he has known since childhood. He is on the brink of telling her he loves her when she says she has fallen in love with someone else — Christian (Kelvin Harrison, Jr.), a new soldier who recently joined Cyrano’s unit. Roxanne asks Cyrano to watch over Christian. When it is clear that Christian feels the same way about Roxanne, Cyrano offers to write love letters to Roxanne on Christian’s behalf. He has secretly been in love with her for his entire adult life, but is also convinced that his appearance renders him unworthy of her love.
Roxanne also seeks true romance and a self-determined future free of her overbearing wealthy suitor, the powerful Duke De Guiche [Ben Mendelsohn – Bloodline series (TV 2015-2017), Mississippi Grind (2015), Animal Kingdom (2010), Starred Up (2013), Darkest Hour (2017), Babyteeth (2019)].
The stunning locations around the late 17th century Sicilian Baroque town of Noto are breathtakingly photographed by cinematographer, Seamus McGarvey. The battlefield scene was recreated on the side of Mount Etna, a live volcano at 16,000 feet above sea level. This sequence is preceded by a very moving scene where soldiers facing certain doom sing aloud their farewell letters to loved ones, with poignant resignation: “Heaven is where I fall.”
With a very familiar love triangle plot and numerous film versions and derivatives since the 1900 French short film directed by Clément Maurice, featuring Benoit Constant Coquelin as Cyrano, which was shown at the 1900 Paris Universal Exposition. The film, tinted with colour and synchronized to a wax cylinder recording, is thought to be the first film made with both colour and sound.
Joe Wright’s current version is notable for its superb ensemble with an especially impressive Peter Dinklage, and the interesting musical spin on the oft-adapted classic with soulful and moving lyrics including: “Have you ever wanted something so badly you cannot breathe? Have you ever loved someone madly?”
Talking of when he was planning the film, Joe Wright said: “On that June day in 2020, as we sat in isolation, it seemed to me that what we needed most was simple human connection, when life feels impenetrably dark. To offer a place to connect to emotions and a conduit to express them. A place of beauty, perhaps beauty in an ugly world. A place without cynicism or irony. A place of love and compassion.”
Images courtesy of: Universal Pictures UK