“Cyrano” and the Power of Prose: Film Review

“Cyrano” and the Power of Prose: Film Review

In contemporary society, finding companionship is typically only a series of meaningless swipes, emoji, and abbreviations. Depicting this dull app-based quest for love is inherently anti-cinematic. That’s why Joe Wright’s musical period piece, Cyrano, is such a delight: It reminds its audience just how grand and elegant romantic pursuits can really be.

Based off of Erica Schmidt’s 2018 stage musical (which is inspired by the 1897 play of the same name) Cyrano follows its title character, Cyrano De Bergerac (Peter Dinklage), a revered solider who is as talented with a sword as he is with a quill. Unfortunately, his varied talents do not include the self-confidence needed to profess his love to his dearest friend, Roxanne (Haley Bennett). When Roxanne tells Cyrano of her longing for Christian (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), a soldier in his regiment, Cyrano sees an opportunity. Cyrano uses Christian as his proxy to write letters of unrequited love to Roxanne, resulting in romances where nothing is what it seems.

Wright’s adaptation of the greatest friendzone tale of all time is one that oozes sensuality. Sarah Greenwood’s set design is immaculately elegant while Massimo Cantini Parrini & Jacqueline Durran’s have crafted costumes that are jaw-droppingly posh. Even the most innocuous of moments, like Cyrano writing letters or Roxanne baking loaves of bread, drip with passion.

However, these moments would not he so impactful if not for the tremendous performances by the entire cast. Peter Dinklage brings a beautifully melancholic undertone to Cyrano, in what may be his best role ever. Meanwhile, after several years of playing supporting characters, Haley Bennett’s mystifying and ethereal screen presence is finally brought to the forefront in her role as Roxanne. Cyrano is worth watching to see the chemistry between these two talented actors alone. Also, while Kelvin Harrison Jr. doesn’t get the dramatic musical solo he so greatly deserves (go watch his performance in Nisha Ganatra’s The High Note if you don’t believe me), his approach to Christian is quite witty and brings a much needed comedic relief to the film’s dire circumstances.

As for the music itself, Aaron & Bryce Dessner’s (The National) score/musical compositions can be hit or miss. While beautifully orchestrated, the score is overmixed and occasionally drowns out the characters’ eloquent soliloquies. Additionally, some of the original songs written for the film (like “Your Name” and “Overcome”) feel too anachronistic for Cyrano‘s 18th century setting. However, the songs that do work in the film (i.e.”Someone to Say” and “Wherever I Fall”) are some of the best compositions for an original musical since La La Land.

Overall, Cyrano, through towering performances and opulent craftsmanship, is a epic of love and desire that leaves audiences wanting to revitalize the grand romantic gesture in their everyday lives.

The Silver Lining

Out of all the original tunes in Cyrano, none make an impact as big as “Wherever I Fall” does. Leading the climatic charge into the third act, “Wherever I Fall” is sung by unnamed soldiers, who write letters to their families on the eve of their potential demise. The song, much like the film itself, turns an intimate gesture into a epic cinematic act and encapsulates Cyrano‘s core message of unspoken truths and the power of letters of any variety. Also, for any contemporary musical film aficionados, this song is gracefully led by an Oscar-winning singer-songwriter in his first on-screen role in over a decade…

Cyrano is now playing in theaters nationwide.

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