Cyrano Movie Review
Cyrano Movie Review Metadata
If there’s one thing you need to know right off the bat, it’s that Cyrano (2022) is a musical. The trailers give no warning of this, I know, and it’s a little unfair. This may drive some of you away, and superficially, I can’t blame you, considering how Really Important People managed to jack up West Side Story (2021), but I’m imploring you to hang on. I promise you, it’s worth it.
For those of you that managed to skip high school Literature and retellings that surface nearly every decade since talking pictures were invented, “Cyrano de Bergerac” is an 1897 play written by Edmond Rostand about a very talented soldier with a very clever wit who has a very large nose. This makes him the butt of cruel jokes, and he believes women will never take him seriously, all while he pines for his one true love. This current adaptation could not be more faithful with the obvious exception – Cyrano’s otherness is expressed as a dwarf.
Cyrano (Peter Dinklage) is a soldier in the French Army during the reign of King Louis XIII, who uses his position as a guard to raise his social standing, saving him from the rather limited career prospects afforded a dwarf. His character is well-written and well-read and can reduce veteran actors to tears with his insults. It doesn’t hurt that he’s a skilled duelist who is able to fight his way out of impossible situations, but oh, does he have a bottomless crush on Roxanne (Haley Bennet). Roxanne is smart and beautiful and very well-read for 17th Century nobility. She’s also his (distant) cousin and childhood friend and they have shared many close moments, though none of those moments, to his great despair, have been romantic. Cyrano is painfully aware that while she loves him, she doesn’t love him love him. Enter Christian, a handsome new cadet (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) that has nearly caught Roxanne’s eye. He begs Cyrano to help him (Christian) woo Roxanne, and in turn, Cyrano can tell her everything he has ever wanted to say.
Cyrano is still rooted in a French play, so of course, there are complications and tragedies, but the thing you notice, even as you sit stunned that the opening number is being sung, is how natural it all looks and how modern it sounds. From the opening scenes of skilled dueling in the streets to the rapid-fire ballad “Every Letter” Cyrano is no tired high school production. This is lush French romanticism from the coy mannerisms to the sweeping chivalry, but the music and sentiments are very contemporary. This is also an anachronistic period piece and your ears may not match your eyes, but your brain manages to marry the senses into an extremely enjoyable experience. Haley Bennet is a talented singer and her breezy Roxanne manages to remain good-hearted despite her losses and hardship. Peter Dinklage’s voice is a surprise as he pours the very soul of his character into every note of “Madly.” Kelvin Harrison Jr.’s Christian is appropriately grateful receiving both the wisdom of Cyrano and the love of Roxanne and he embraces his status as Luckiest Man on Earth. Bashir Salahuddin is Cyrano’s right-hand man, Le Bret, ready and willing to pull him from the fire should that ever be needed, and Ben Mendelsohn does another turn as a villain with his slimy and duplicitous Count de Guiche.
Cyrano shouldn’t work, and in some places, it tries harder than it achieves, but it’s redeemed many times over with not only the sheer sincerity of the source material but also of the music. I have the soundtrack on my phone right now.
Cyrano is also my choice for Best Picture, hands down. Rarely do I see a film that is not only deeply moving, but fun and relatable, and it touches those weird places in me that can recognize beauty and romance. It is a movie to watch and then sing along to, much to the consternation of all of your friends who should be happy you’re no longer belting out Encanto (2021).
Cyrano (2022) is Rated PG-13 for lots of people breaking into song, people getting stabbed, run through, and tossed down stairs, for flirtatious fascination, scenes of starvation, war, and heartache. If you manage to make it through “Wherever I Fall” without shedding a single tear, you can’t sit with us.