Sometimes performances can out strip the material…
With his trade mark flair for stylish period pieces, director Joe Wright returns to cinemas with his adaption of Cyrano.
While it’s appropriately flashy it leans far too much on its style and it only remotely saved by the substance of a leading performance from an actor who wouldn’t know how to dial it in even if they tried.
A man ahead of his time, Cyrano de Bergerac (Peter Dinklage) dazzles whether with ferocious wordplay at a verbal joust or with brilliant swordplay in a duel. But, convinced that his appearance renders him unworthy of the love of a devoted friend, the luminous Roxanne (Haley Bennett), Cyrano has yet to declare his feelings for her — and Roxanne has fallen in love, at first sight, with Christian (Kelvin Harrison Jr.).
The reality is that Peter Dinklage could probably read the phone book and make it compelling and we believe him in the iconic title role. However, the problem of the film lies in the similarities to the strife of its primary character. The substance that Dinklage brings to the role gets drowned out by a hollow flash that Joe Wright too frequently brings to his films.
Whenever Wright goes into a flowery period piece mode, the proceedings tend to get mostly hollow as it all looks pretty but never finds anything that feels anything more than pointless. There can be such a thing as “too much artifice” as these period pieces actually feel so hollow and kind of exhausting, and when you awkwardly shoehorn in some musical numbers, it’s just all trying WAY too cover up any lack of substance with colourful set design and largely staged set pieces. The script from first time screen writer Erika Schmidt is fairly by the numbers and doesn’t do anyone other than Peter Dinklage any real favours as it plays too flowery and gives us musical numbers where the cast really can’t sing all that well.
That being said, once you strip away the flowery nonsense of it all the core of the original piece still remains thanks to Peter Dinklage. We get the bravado but also the fragile humility that the character requires and he plays it brilliantly. Meanwhile Haley Bennett as Roxanne comes off as a little too airy and insignificant of these characters affections while Kelvin Harrison Jr felt out of place as Christian and Ben Mendelsohn as actively trolling it all and chewing as much scenery as he possibly could as De Guiche.
At the end of the day, the only reason this version of Cyrano comes close to working is a stellar performance from Peter Dinklage who understands not only the heart of the swashbuckling poet that the character is but also the man’s fragility in the face of humanities cruelty to anyone who might be a little different. That alone is worth watching, I can leave the flowery backdrops and mediocre musical numbers to someone who knows how to write and stage that stuff a little better.
- Release Date: 2/25/2022