Written by Alex Gilston
Joe Wright returns to the big screen with Cyrano, a period musical piece that is as lovingly infectious as it is poetically so. It’s the type of grandiose fanfare that suits itself to a tea. Wright gets the scope required for a story and feature like this, and in doing so makes, for the most part, a triumphant piece of musical cinema.
Based on countless adaptations of the original play, Cyrano tells the story of the titular character Cyrano de Bergerac (Peter Dinklage) a poet and swordsman who is in love with Roxanne (Haley Bennett), although due to his appearance he feels he can’t admit his love for her. When he finds out she is in love with a soldier who is part of his ranks he decides to live vicariously through him by helping him write love letters to her in a hope that it will bring him and Roxanne together. This tale of unrequited love is as old as time itself, yet writer Erica Schmidt finds a way to keep the fire fueled. It’s never about reinventing the wheel but keeping it turning enough to be able to indulge in the story and root for whoever you want to in the overtly strange love triangle.
Peter Dinklage approaches the eponymous character with an affection that draws you in instantly. His longing becomes your longing because of how convincing his pain is. It’s really amazing to see Dinklage thriving post Game of Thrones, and this is by far his best performance to date since it ended. However Cyrano is a product of its ensemble without some of the other main cast it wouldn’t work half as well. Haley Bennett is the standout as Roxanne, offering up the best singing voice out of the whole cast as well. Ben Mendelsohn is brilliantly icky as De Guiche, his performance is pantomime at heart but in the context of the film it pays off.
The songs in Cyrano aren’t instantly memorable, but after a few watches there is room for them to become earworms. It is safe to say though that the songs that open themselves up to multiple listens are all the ones sung by Haley Bennett, and Someone To Say is a clear highlight of that point, it’s a beautiful example of Bennett’s exemplary voice. The costumes are dripping in elegance, from the soldiers outfits to the plethora of flowy dresses that Roxanne wears, and along with the make-up and hair it helps to immerse you into the time period with ease.
There’s a lot to love about Cyrano. Could this have worked as a straight cut dramatic adaptation without the songs added in? Probably, yes. But that isn’t to say that the musical aspect of Cyrano is a point of contention. It’s a testament to Joe Wright’s talent as a director that at the end of it all, it does rather fit in.