CYRANO – Review by Susan Granger
It’s not about the nose!
Director Joe Wright re-imagines Edmund Rostand’s 1897 poetic drama Cyrano de Bergerac about a swashbuckling poet/solider with self-esteem issues. All his life Cyrano has been besotted by his beautiful childhood friend Roxanne but unable to express his love for her because of embarrassment over his enormous nose.
When cultured Roxanne falls in love with Christian, a handsome but inarticulate soldier in Cyrano’s regiment, Cyrano offers to covertly coach Christian, pouring out his passion through Christian’s lips. But will his secret ever be discovered?
In her musical adaptation of the French classic love story, Erika Schmidt discards the gigantic nose as an impediment and substitutes short stature. Cyrano is embodied by Peter Dinklage, while Roxanne is played by Hayley Bennett and Christian by Kelvin Harrison Jr. Ben Mendelsohn plays the villainous DeGuiche.
In an interview with the New York Times, Peter Dinklage compares the courtship to contemporary ‘catfishing,’ noting: “It’s exactly what we’re doing today with online dating, where you’re putting up a profile of yourself that is not necessarily true to who you are. We all pretend to be other people to a varying degree.”
Four-time Emmy-winner Dinklage is best known for playing Tyrion Lannister for eight seasons on TV’s fantasy drama Game of Thrones.
Historically, there was a 1950 film version for which Jose Ferrer won an Oscar as Cyrano. Gerard Depardieu also tackled the role, along with Christopher Plummer, Jean-Paul Belmondo, and Steve Martin, who made it into a modern rom-com with Roxanne. There have been countless stage productions.
This production is a family affair. Peter Dinklage’s real-life partner is Erica Schmidt. Working with The National’s Aaron Dresser and Bryce Dessner, they developed this concept in a workshop at Goodspeed’s Norma Terris Theater in Chester, CT.
Joe Wright, whose real-life partner is Hayley Bennett, shot the film in Sicily, placing the wintry battle scenes against the magnificent backdrop of Mount Etna.
On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, Cyrano is an engrossing 8, a classic tale enhanced by the music.