Though I wasn’t surprised that someone had finally decided to adapt Edmond Rostand’s play as a musical, I was surprised that the producers of the original stage production adapted for this movie chose twin brothers Bryce and Aaron Dessner of the rock group The National to write the music. Though The National’s music can be quite dramatic, it’s also built for the kind of singer I don’t normally associate with musical theater, and in that regard the songs here don’t quite make up for the lyricism that is supposed to be a hallmark of the title character’s poetry. That said, Peter Dinklage in that role gets by just on the strength of that amazing face of his, and director Joe Wright, who loves to show off as much as Cyrano does, makes much of Dinklage’s craggy features and moony eyes.
The actors Wright chose to play Roxanne (Haley Bennett), the object of Cyrano’s hidden affections, and Christian (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), the handsome young soldier who recruits Cyrano’s literary skills to woo Roxanne, are a little too generic, especially when they have to share scenes with Dinklage. Only Ben Mendelsohn, playing the nobleman De Guiche with lots of pancake makeup and rouge, holds his own with Dinklage, but their scenes together are few and far between. For sure, the juxtaposition highlights Christian’s simple-mindedness to the point where you can’t believe that Roxanne doesn’t see through the ruse earlier than she does.
If Wright can be commended for anything it’s the way he folds the backdrop of war into a story that most adapters tend to relegate as historical baggage and atmosphere. The National’s songs, which always contain a heavy dose of melancholy, work quite well in this context and while Wright seems to enjoy himself more when staging comedy (and Dinklage is also a great comic actor) he understands the ending is almost pointless without the sense of loss that war brings. His movie will never be the last word on this classic play, but the imagination at work is commendable at times.
Now playing in Tokyo at Toho Cinemas Nihonbashi (050-6868-5060), Toho Cinemas Hibiya (050-6868-5068), Shinjuku Wald 9 (03-5369-4955), Toho Cinemas Shinjuku (050-6868-5063), Shibuya Cine Quinto (03-3477-5905), Shibuya Parco White Cine Quinto (03-6712-7225), Toho Cinemas Roppongi Hills (050-6868-5024).
Cyrano home page in Japanese
photo (c) 2021 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc.