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Cyrano Review

Following the panned adaptation of The Woman in the Window, director Joe Wright heads back to his period roots with a fresh take on Edmond Rostand’s beloved classic play. The romantic drama adapts playwright and screenwriter Erica Schmidt’s 2018 off-Broadway musical version, with Game of Throne‘s Peter Dinklage and and also Haley Bennett reprising their lead roles.

Directed by Joe Wright, Cyrano follows the charismatic poet and notorious swordsman Cyrano de Bergerac (Peter Dinklage), who’s secretly in love with his beautiful childhood friend Roxanne (Hayley Bennett). Just as he’s about to confess his deep feelings, Roxanne announces that she’s fallen in love at first sight with another man, the young and handsome Christian de Neuvillette (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), who’s about to join Cyrano’s company of guards, the Cadets of Gascoyne. As requested by Roxanne, the poet agrees to help Christian and soon hatches a plan to write Roxanne letters assuming his identity, “I will make you eloquent, while you will make me handsome.” But is it Cyrano’s gifted words or Christian’s good looks who Roxanne truly falls in love with?

With the director of Pride and Prejudice, Anna Karenina and Atonement at the helm, you might go into the latest cinematic adaptation of the classic play with certain preconceived notions. And yes, while there are certain showy excesses and a niggling, uneven tone to Wright’s take on the source material, it’s difficult not to be swept away by the beautiful, fairtytale-esque romance set to a stunning score. The staging, stylistic production design and incredible performances will certainly win over literature fans and theatre/musical lovers – as Wright injects a more playful and witty spin on the script. Adapting Schmidt’s 2018 off-Broadway version with Dinklage at the helm also adds far more poignancy and weight to Cyrano’s insecurities and self-doubt, as he grapples with questioning whether he’s truly worthy of love.

The Game of Thrones actor is once again hugely compelling and charismatic in the titular role, deserving of all the award nominations which come his way. Following one of the best entrances in film yet – with Dinklage fully leaning into his charm, brilliant comedic timing and dry wit – you instantly root for and empathise with the talented swashbuckler and poet. Underneath the bravado however, Dinklage perfectly conveys the character’s pain, longing and inner turmoil with a hugely profound and emotive performance. His version of Cyrano, complete with heartbroken expression and tortured soul, allows for a much deeper confrontation of his self-loathing – resulting in a much soulful take.

His central dynamic with Haley Bennett’s Roxanne sparkles, as the two close friends share a similar wit, love of words and longing for more than the shallow confines of stuffy society. While Bennett and Wright have taken steps to further flesh out the previously shallow Roxanne, particularly regarding her views on love and marriage: “I’m nobody’s pet, no one’s wife, no one’s woman and I won’t play that game” she sings in “Someone to Say”. However, despite the appreciated steps to modernise the character somewhat, it is a little disappointing that she prefers the blandly handsome Christian to the far more romantic Cyrano (and doesn’t twig that it’s her longtime friend is the one behind the letters!) Meanwhile, Kelvin Harrison Jr.’s Christian and Ben Mendelsohn’s pantomime villain unfortunately lack the depth of the main pair.

Shot on location in stunning Sicily, paired with Sarah Greenwood’s magical production design and Massimo Cantini Parrini’s costumes, Cyrano is a truly exquisite slice of romantic period drama. Wright excellently stages key scenes, with standouts including the heartbreaking take on one of literature’s most famous balcony scenes in “Overcome”, along with the wonderfully spritely theatre duel, as Dinklage relishes in a Hamilton-esque rap battle “When I Was Born” with an impressive energy and fight choreography. Bennett also soars in the vocal department, particularly in key songs “Someone to Say” and “I Need More”, while Dinklage brings an almost raw vulnerability with his deep vocals. Mendelsohn meanwhile, is unfortunately shortchanged with the cheesy Disney-esque villain rock song “What I Deserve.”


With a hugely charismatic lead performance from Dinklage – which will undoubtedly break your heart – Wright’s adaptation of Cyrano is a truly emotive and artistic feat, but the sudden ending may leave you a little reeling.