Criticism, ‘Cyrano’: The gentleman goes to the musical

In 2018, the actress and screenwriter Erica Schmidt created a musical inspired by the famous play by Edmond Rostand, ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’, along with Aaron Dessner, Bryce Dessner, Matt Berninger and Carin Besser. Three years later, the British filmmaker Joe Wright, after successfully returning to period productions with the Churchill biopic ‘The Darkest Hour’, decided to take it to the big screen. That has caused the arrival of ‘Cyrano’, nominated for an Oscar for best costume designwith Peter Dinklage turned into the gallant with a tragic fate in the France of 1640.


Yes, it is true that Joe Wright has a hand for period adaptations, his version of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is one of the most acclaimed at the cinematographic level. He has also proven to be innovative in the genre, proof of this is his particular vision of ‘Anna Karenina’, shot practically on a single stage. With which, it seemed logical that his return with ‘Cyrano’, after the setback caused by the failed ‘The woman in the window’, would go through the front door. The result is much more irregular than one would expect.

There have been so many adaptations that Rostand’s work has had, that a new one has to provide a different touch to what has been seen before, which is not a small thing. The adaptations of the 1950 work, with the great José Ferrer at the helm; or 1990, with Gérard Depardieu recalling that, above all, Cyrano must give off a French essence, are the most remembered on the big screen, to the point that the last approach to the work was to narrate how Rostand created the famous piece, the endearing ‘Letters to Roxane’thus avoiding direct comparison.


Apparently, Wright’s ‘Cyrano’ had a lot to say, since it is a musical and most importantly: it changes the aesthetic aspect of the film, because the problem that the protagonist has is not in a long and sharp nose, but in his diminutive stature. Yes, this change works, it gives the tape more authenticity. Here you can see that Schmidt’s original musical was tailor-made for his spouse, Peter Dinklage, who always felt identified with the hero of Rostand’s work and very well reproduces that frustration of loving in secret, as well as the idealization of that yearning. Really, It is the actor of ‘Game of thrones’ the best of a proposal that ends up staying half in its ambitions.

A Musical Tailor Made for Peter Dinklage

The problem with this version is that it is a musical with themes that do not manage to stay in the mind, it lacks moments like ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ from ‘Les miserables’, ‘Tonight’ or ‘America’ from ‘West Side Story’ or ‘Memory’ from ‘Cats’ (which failed to lift its failed adaptation cinematographic). Nor does he manage to create them, as he did with ‘The City of Stars: La La Land’, with ‘Another Day of Sun’, ‘City of Stars’ or ‘Audition (The Fools Who Dream)’. With which, in its musical section, it produces the feeling of staying in no man’s land.


And if its musical part fails, the film falls almost completely. With no memorable moments, the film progresses through a plot that also fails to attract attention. In his attempt to modernize it, Schmidt’s script ends up creating a much lighter fable than the drama it should be. The sequences of greater dramatic weight do not transmit that passion and that pain for unrequited love. The love triangle doesn’t work either. Haley Bennett does what she can with her Roxanne, but she lacks chemistry with the other heartthrob in this match, Kelvin Harrison Jr. His Christian is far from what could be seen in the versions by Vincent Pérez or William Prince.


In its desire to also be a contemporary adaptation, this ‘Cyrano’ also stays in no man’s land. With Sicily as the setting, the feature film demanded to be a more period production. That dissonance in its careful production design is reflected in costumes more typical of Disney’s live-action remakes, excessively colorful for a tragic story. All this increases the feeling of irregular adaptation, to which must be added an excessively bright photograph to be a story of unrequited love and intrigue.

‘Cyrano’ manages to have brilliant moments thanks to the interpretation of Peter Dinklage. Unfortunately, it is not enough. A laudable attempt to update a timeless classic that unfortunately falls short of gas. Of course, its beautiful natural settings will be a visual delight for those who give it a chance.

Note: 5

The best: The interpretation of Peter Dinklage and the beautiful views of Sicily.

Worst: His musical part fails to be memorable. Her wardrobe is more typical of Disney.

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