Peter Dinklage brings disarming sincerity to this oft-told tale : NPR


Haley Bennett stars as Roxanne in Joe Wright’s Cyrano.

Peter Mountain/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Footage Inc.


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Peter Mountain/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Footage Inc.


Haley Bennett stars as Roxanne in Joe Wright’s Cyrano.

Peter Mountain/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Footage Inc.

Numerous nice actors have performed Cyrano de Bergerac through the years, together with José Ferrer, Christopher Plummer, Gérard Depardieu, Kevin Kline and Steve Martin, for those who depend — and why not? — the 1987 modern-day comedy Roxanne.

The most recent to hitch their distinguished firm is Peter Dinklage, and he is the uncommon actor not to put on a faux nostril for the position. Right here, it is not an enormous schnoz however slightly Cyrano’s diminutive stature that makes him suppose he is unworthy of Roxanne, the girl he loves, performed by Haley Bennett.

That is not the one main departure from Edmond Rostand’s tragicomic 1897 play. This stable and typically enchanting film, merely titled Cyrano, was tailored by Erica Schmidt from her 2019 stage musical, with a rating and songs by members of the band The Nationwide. Their candy, somber melodies deliver a decidedly trendy edge to the story, which takes place someday between the seventeenth and 18th centuries. Whereas Cyrano de Bergerac often unfolds in Paris, the film, shot largely in Sicily, would not specify an actual location.

Other than these modifications, it is the identical story. Cyrano, a revered soldier within the king’s military, is famend and feared for his very good swordsmanship and his scathing wit, each of which have made him highly effective enemies like Rely de Guiche, performed by a scowling Ben Mendelsohn.

Cyrano can also be deeply in love with Roxanne, a longtime good friend who admires his confrontational spirit and his manner with phrases. However Roxanne has fallen for Christian, a dashing younger soldier — performed by an excellent Kelvin Harrison Jr. — who’s simply joined Cyrano’s regiment. Cyrano takes on the position of a go-between and even goes as far as to jot down impossibly eloquent love letters to Roxanne, passing them off as Christian’s.

On the climax of this farcical romantic triangle, Roxanne stands at her bed room window whereas the hopelessly inarticulate Christian tries to woo her, with some much-needed prodding from Cyrano, lurking within the shadows. At a sure level, Cyrano takes over, and he provides full voice to his passionate emotions in a beautiful duet between him and a still-unsuspecting Roxanne.

Enjoyable truth: Dinklage and screenwriter Schmidt are a pair, as are Bennett and the movie’s director, Joe Wright. Consider it as a romantic behind-the-scenes footnote to a film that is unabashedly romantic in spirit. Wright’s filmmaking has a delightful old style sumptuousness, courtesy of manufacturing designer Sarah Greenwood and costume designers Massimo Cantini Parrini and Jacqueline Durran, who’re Oscar-nominated for his or her dazzling work right here.

As he did in previous movies like Delight & Prejudice and Anna Karenina, Wright controls the digicam with fluid grace, letting us see the actors and dancers shifting by means of house with not one of the busy reducing you get in so many modern film musicals. Bennett is a educated singer, and she or he delivers the film’s strongest musical efficiency; her Roxanne actually involves emotional life when she’s known as on to sing.

Dinklage has musical expertise, too — he was the frontman of a ’90s punk band known as Whizzy — and he expresses Cyrano’s each longing with a deep, soulful baritone. He is an impressed selection for the position: Like Tyrion Lannister, whom Dinklage performed to perfection on Sport of Thrones, Cyrano is at all times the neatest particular person within the room, simple to underestimate however exhausting to defeat in a battle of wits or weapons.

However Dinklage reveals you the deep ache at Cyrano’s core, and makes you’re feeling the sting of his unrequited love. Some purists could miss that massive nostril, however there’s one thing concerning the lack of prosthetic enhancements that makes Dinklage’s efficiency all of the extra poignant: What you see onscreen is all him, nothing extra and nothing much less.

That disarming sincerity applies to the film as an entire. It isn’t at all times essentially the most swish retelling of this oft-told story, but it surely’s exhausting to not admire Wright’s conviction and typically his loopy audacity. Solely a really dedicated director would have opted to shoot a climactic battle scene at 16,000 toes above sea stage on the aspect of Mount Etna, a dwell volcano. It is a showy flourish, for certain — but in addition a becoming one for a narrative of such grand, operatic ardour.