REVIEW: ‘Cyrano’ is a sensational musical

Peter Dinklage should’ve been an Oscar contender.

Based on a 2018 stage musical, which itself was based on the 1897 play “Cyrano de Bergerac,” the film “Cyrano” tells the story of the titular character portrayed by Dinklage. Cyrano is a writer, poet, performer and even a cunning swordsman. Despite his talents, though, he can’t bring himself to confess his love for his friend from childhood, Roxanne (Haley Bennett). This is because of his own self doubt related to his appearance.

His complicated romantic situation is only compounded when Roxanne, who’s expected to marry the duke De Guiche (Ben Mendelsohn), announces her love for a soldier named Christian (Kelvin Harrison Jr.). Wanting to make his love happy, Cyrano decides to help Christian write letters to Roxanne, as the solider is also in love with her.

Should’ve, could’ve, would’ve. “Cyrano” is a movie that absolutely deserved to be in the conversation this award season. Sadly, because it was pushed back to the end of February, it is mostly going overlooked, outside of a single Oscar nomination for costume design. It’s lack of hardware, though, doesn’t mean its unworthy of praise.

“Cyrano” begins winning an audience over right from the start. A peaceful melody accompanies Roxanne introducing her as a starry-eyed romantic. This is followed by a fiery song to introduce Cyrano, showing not only his wit, but his abilities with a blade, too.

From there, “Cyrano” plays out as essentially an elevated romantic comedy. There’s political intrigue related to ongoing war nearby and enormous set-pieces for musical sequences that create an impressive backdrop.

However, it’s the fundamentals that make the movie excel. The creative team with director Joe Wright and writer Erica Schmidt succeed in producing plenty of humor, as well as compelling romantic ties between the characters.

“Cyrano” has several genuinely funny moments, as well as truly emotional, heartfelt sequences. All of it helping to move an audience again and again.

CyranoBlog
Courtesy Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and United Artists.

The movie comes into issues, though, in how everything unfolds in its third act. The problem isn’t particularly with what takes place, but how things develop. The final portion of the movie packs a lot in, and it feels rather rushed.

This is a film where the run time, barely over two hours, feels too short. This could have easily been longer to reach the historical, period piece epic that it deserved to be. Doing so could have fleshed out the film much more, allowing the fates of the characters to play out better.

It’s also noticeable that the final piece of the movie includes one of the lesser songs of the picture. The musical moment features some random characters, which isn’t inherently a problem, but it just doesn’t hit the way the others do.

Basically all of the other songs, though, are superb. The music is energetic, uplifting and full of heart. There’s a beauty, grace and wit to the music at play, and many of them are accompanied by great dancing and visuals. An example of the latter is a sequence where characters are writing letters to each other, with the pieces of parchment flying around them like a whirlwind.

As stated in the lede, Dinklage should have been in the running this season for Best Actor at the Oscars. He without a doubt gave one of the best performances 2021 had to offer.

The character exudes swagger and confidence when in battle or on a stage thanks to Dinklage’s acting. At the same time, he’s brilliant in portraying the tenderness the character has when he’s speaking about Roxanne.

The supporting cast is solid, too. Bennett captures a wonderful elegance with her portrayal, while Harrison Jr. brings a powerful charisma to his performance.

“Cyrano” doesn’t stick the landing at the end like one would hope but it still offers a rich experience to audiences. The music, humor and romance intertwined with story and characters make it worth a watch. 4.25 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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