This is yet another adaptation of the often told and retold fable of the 1897 play Cyrano de Bergerac. In the original story, Cyrano is supposed to have a rather big and unsightly nose which causes him to have self doubts on his looks and expressing his love for his childhood girlfriend Roxanne. Instead he ends up writing love letters to her through a suitor, Christian, who conveniently happens to be romantically illiterate. This latest adaptation appears geared towards providing Game of Throne’s Tyrion Lannister, diminutive actor Peter Dinklage a starring role by making his dwarfish physique as the cause of his doubts as opposed to a mere large nose. In addition, this adaptation is based on a 2018 stage musical version of the story.
Telling this admittedly fairy tale like story as a musical is not necessarily a bad idea as musicals often goes well with such fantasy romance. However, for me, this was utterly a dreadful idea as I found all the songs and music excruciating to listen to. It did not help that none of the cast members with the exception of maybe some of the bit part characters, have a good singing voice. Peter Dinklage is a brilliant actor and he had proven this to the world as Tyrion Lannister in Game of Throne. However here, he is made to break out in a song every moment he gets which is not something that he is good at. He is fine here as Cyrano as long as he isn’t singing which unfortunately for us, doesn’t happen too often.
The supporting roles played by Haley Bennett as the naïve Roxanne and Kevin Harrison Jr as the somewhat witless Christian, were at most just passable, without leaving any lasting impression. Again the unimpressive lyrics and tunes did not help as we put up with the agony of listening to endless singing in order to progress through the movie.
Perhaps the most redeeming value of Cyrano is in its sets, and the costume and make up designs. Director Joe Wright has visualise a 17th century Paris that is strangely unromantic for a romantic tale. The Paris here as is one that is cramped and untidy although perhaps because of that, it projected a certain charm which neither Roxanne or Cyrano manages to do. Whether we are in the tiny theatre, the baker’s shop, at the battle front or at the army regiment’s training grounds, the backdrop often steals the scene. The exaggerated and heavy makeup on the faces of the men and women of the day were also an interesting reminder of what is deemed as “beauty” lies in the eye of the beholder and how this values have changed over time.
So Cyrano is a mixed bag that misses its mark which gains some redeeming value in its design aesthetics. I still cannot recommend it though unless you are a die hard fan of Peter Dinklage or musicals no matter how bad the songs are.