© Universal Pictures International Germany GmbH

U.K./Canada/U.S.A. 2021

Opening 3 Mar 2022

Directed by: Joe Wright
Writing credits: Edmond Rostand, Erica Schmidt
Principal actors: Peter Dinklage, Haley Bennett, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Ben Mendelsohn, Monica Dolan

Cyrano is a musical romantic drama from film director Joe Wright (Pride and Prejudice [2005], Atonement [2007], and Darkest Hour [2017]) adapted from the popular play Cyrano de Bergerac, which takes place in 17th century Paris.

Cyrano (Peter Dinklage), a noble soldier in a king’s army, is highly respected and feared for his fencing mastery, his eloquence, scathing wit, and bitter irony. He shares a passion for literature, words, rhymes, and poetic language with his childhood friend Roxanne (Haley Bennett), to whom he does not dare declare his love for fear of being rejected and of losing her forever. Roxanne is a beautiful young lady without family, elegant, joyful, confident but sensitive, who longs for a romantic soulmate just as in a fairytale. Two other men are also in love with Roxanne, the Count de Guiche (Ben Mendelsohn), an arrogant and powerful old man with whom she could marry well but despises, and Christian (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), a brave soldier who falls in love at first sight with her—in a theater crowd—and she, too, has noticed him. Roxanne confides to Cyrano that she loves someone, and encouraged by his friend Le Bret (Bashir Salahuddin) to reveal his love, Cyrano believes for a moment that Roxanne might have reciprocal feelings for him only to find out that she is in love with Christian. Out of desperate love for Roxanne, Cyrano agrees to protect Christian and help him speak romantically in order to win Roxanne’s heart.

Joe Wright worked with playwright Erica Schmidt, who had previously adapted the play for the stage and offered a contemporary version of it while conserving the original plot, historical period, setting, characters, costumes, and poetry. The play has inspired several cinematic adaptations, the last one starring acclaimed French actor Gérard Depardieu as Cyrano in 1990 and was a tremendous success. This 2021 musical version is funny, full of panache and grace but also sad. Like in a fairytale, the viewer is carried away by the actors’ performances, the baroque decorum, the music, the love songs, as well as the singing performances themselves. A blast for the eyes and the ears! The soundtrack is produced by the band The National. Matt Berninger, the band’s frontman, wrote the lyrics with his wife, Carin Besser. Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) is remarkable as the lead character—a Cyrano without a long nose this time. He embodies the character with energy and depth, bringing tremendous modernity to heroic values such as honor, truth, and romantic gesture. But what is most striking is his theatricality, and the gravity of his voice in the monologue songs go right to your heart. I would not be surprised if Dinklage receives an Oscar for this role. Haley Bennett (The Magnificent Seven [2016]), a powerful free-minded Roxanne, brings freshness to a dusted and artificial world where conventions, powdered faces, wigs, and lavish costumes and dresses are the norm. Her elevated but idealistic idea of love is put to the test in the central balcony scene where Cyrano, out of desperate love, whispers all the poetic and romantic words to Christian to seduce Roxanne. A beautiful scene! Kelvin Harrison Jr. (Waves [2019]) also fits very well in the role of Christian. While open, passionate, and fiery, his innocence conveys a sense of trust and authenticity. Caught up between his love for Roxanne and a lie, he bears the moral conscience of the main characters. Although the ending is a bit abrupt, and therefore a bit deceiving, this musical is a brilliant love letter. Have you ever loved someone...madly? (Brigitte Bernard-Rau)

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