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‘Cyrano’ Charms With Musical Remake (Review)

Wikipedia lists at least 24 film adaptations of ‘Cyrano de Bergerac,’ either in direct or derivative versions.

Based on a play from 1897, most versions find our lead character pining for a beautiful woman and afraid to put himself out there on account of his large nose.

Joe Wright’s charming new adaptation is based on an Off Broadway musical reimagining of the story that was done for the stage by Erica Schmidt and starring her husband, Peter Dinklage, in the titular role.

Haley Bennett also reprises her role as Roxanne from this stage version, which includes a beautiful score and delightful original songs from Aaron Dessner, Bryce Dessner, and Matt Berninger of The National.

Edmond Rostand’s original play was loosely based on the true story of a man from Paris with a “remarkably large nose.” That plotline is swapped out here. Cyrano’s longing for Roxanne comes because he feels that she cannot love him because he is a dwarf. In keeping with the original tale, he uses his affections and poetry skills to help Christian (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) woo Roxanne.

Gorgeously shot by cinematographer Seamus McGarvey in Sicily, this film version of ‘Cyrano’ succeeds thanks to its wildly talented cast and the beautifully unexpected songs. Dinklage, Bennett, and Harrison are simply divine.

I went into this one completely skeptical and expecting to dislike it and walked out a convert. It is increasingly difficult to bring this kind of adaptation to life in a meaningful way, but you should never second guess Wright, who previously managed to deliver one of the best versions ever of ‘Pride & Prejudice,’ and also has a stunningly innovative remake of ‘Anna Karenina’ under his belt.

Here in America, the film’s release has been delayed several times due to COVID. It only managed to earn one nomination (for Best Costume Design) at the Oscars. Overseas, the BAFTAs have nominated it for four awards, including Outstanding British Film and Best Production Design.

‘Cyrano’ opens in theaters across the country today.

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