In Review

Film review: Cyrano

Peter Dinklage shines in a poor musical version of the 1897 play

Cyrano de Bergerac “has been adapted for the movies many times”, said Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian; this latest version is based on Erica Schmidt’s stage musical, and stars Peter Dinklage as the soldier poet hopelessly in love with Roxanne (Haley Bennett).

In the 1897 play, Cyrano has an “unfunnily phallic big nose”; here his “schnoz” is normal-sized, but he is convinced that Roxanne will never love him because of his short stature. So when she falls for the handsome but doltish and “hopelessly tongue-tied” Christian (Kelvin Harrison Jr), Cyrano offers to ghostwrite Christian’s love letters, in the hopes of making her happy. The film is slow and solemn but redeemed by Dinklage, who unleashes the full force of his “natural charisma”.

He is good, but alas, the music is not, said Wendy Ide in The Observer. Composed by the rock band The National, the songs are forgettable and “virtually tuneless”; and the screenplay is little better: it wallows in the “tragedy of the story” while failing to convey Cyrano’s “parrying humour”. Without that “essential part of the character’s appeal”, it falls to the film’s “glorious scenery” (it’s filmed in Sicily) to do lots of the “heavy lifting”.

But the real problem with Joe Wright’s film is that the main characters “feel like total strangers throughout”, although the script informs us that they can see into each other’s hearts, said Tim Robey in The Daily Telegraph.

That is partly down to their weirdly mismatched accents: Bennett speaks in an English one, while Dinklage has kept his “American growl”. But it is also because Roxanne comes across as an imperious snob. It’s a poor Cyrano in which we feel both the men are wasted on her.

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