From: Silver Screen

REVIEW: ‘Cyrano’ falls flat in message and music

REVIEW: ‘Cyrano’ falls flat in message and music
C_00481_R Haley Bennett stars as Roxanne and Peter Dinklage as Cyrano in Joe Wright’s CYRANO A Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film Photo credit: Peter Mountain © 2021 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.

For almost two decades, director Joe Wright could do no wrong when it came to making period pieces. His work on “Anna Karenina” and “Pride & Prejudice” solidified him as a craftsman of lyrical movies and historical drama. Unfortunately, his latest film “Cyrano” does little to advance his status in this field; if anything, it seems to downplay his previous success. 

Conceptually, “Cyrano” is a decent film on paper. It centers around a classic tale of love and loss and features an all-star cast led by Peter Dinklage, who captivates as the titular character. Dinklage and co-star Haley Bennett (Roxanne) demonstrate impalpable chemistry while Kelvin Harrison Jr. (Christian) divinely portrays the dull, though lovable, suitor that comes between them. It is hard to suggest that the acting is anything but brilliant, as these three performers bring a new life to a worn tale.

It would be remiss not to address the strength of the costuming, for which the film received an Academy Award nomination. The dresses that Roxanne sports throughout her scenes are flawlessly designed to account for the film’s romantic tone and fast pace. Her dressing and undressing plays greatly into the aesthetic of Wright’s theatrical single-shots, which ultimately work to the film’s advantage visually. 

With that being said, the script and music often feel heavy-handed, which occasionally gives the actors little to work with during long stretches of the film. Judging by the somewhat forgettable and cliche lyrics, redundant melodies and seemingly heavily-edited vocal performances, it is surprising that this film is based off of a stage musical by screenwriter Erica Schmidt. It would be easy to group many of the tunes in with those of made-for-movie musicals, which tend to have looser, more repetitive lyrics and simpler melodic lines than those produced for the stage.

And yet, it is true that any wartime musical concerning longing and love will be compared to its legendary predecessor, “Les Misérables” — the stage show, as the value of the film adaptation has been debated. Musicals of this genre must do a great deal to compensate for the comparisons that will inevitably be made between them and one of the most notable musicals of this generation. For this reason, the decision to make the movie a musical felt misguided: if the film itself existed sans the flawed score, it could have stood a chance as a blockbuster spectacle.

Still, it’s important to consider and question the need for yet another “Cyrano” adaptation — especially given the number of times it's been done. While Wright certainly adds his own flair to the story, it’s hard to identify and justify why this production was worth the 30 million dollars that were put toward it. 

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Altogether, the film is not necessarily unimpressive. It features gorgeous scenery, stunning poetry and moving scenes that are likely to please any casual moviegoer. But for those who find themselves more critical of the movie musical genre, it is not likely to be an enjoyable watch. 

“Cyrano” was released in theaters on Feb. 25.

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