Peter Dinklage should be in more films, period. Although he’s diversified his resume through television and the stage, I’m always willing to see more of him on screen, not just via a cartoon voice. Cyrano is a wonderful way to test that theory.
If you haven’t heard of Cyrano before, the drama follows the titular poet as he takes on the trappings of 17th century Paris. Part meta-commentary, part romantic drama, he wrestles with the upper class and with his own love life: in triangle form, of course.
When Cyrano engages in a sword fight just 15 minutes in while essentially rap battling a cad who slaps him in the face with a glove, you know you’re in for a ride. Dinklage makes a splash immediately. His ability to portray rapier wit is second to none following his turn in Game of Thrones, and he’s put all his training to work here.
He has a hell of a sparring partner too, as Kelvin Harrison Jr. (someone who is permanently on my radar after 2019’s Waves), is fantastic as the friend and partial foil to Cyrano. Naturally, Roxanne (Haley Bennett) likes Christian, and we cringe when she confesses this to Cyrano before our very eyes.
“When Cyrano engages in a sword fight just 15 minutes in while essentially rap battling a cad who slaps him in the face with a glove, you know you’re in for a ride.”
Cyrano, as a film, goes far beyond the usual scope of a musical. We’re constantly told internet thoughts through song, but we also get several, frankly, impressive action scenes to show off how capable our hero really is. Again, Dinklage is perfection here, making us believe that this theoretically superhuman man is merely mortal. Finely tuned sets (filmed in Italy) augment his performance.
I’m glad that director Joe Wright and company made the decision to eschew a full sung-through musical approach. It allows the cast to breathe a little, and flex when it comes to the slower, more deliberate dramatic moments.
At times, Cyrano can go a little crazy with the musical arrangements, as some of the semi-anachronistic choreographed scenes are a little unnecessary. You just have to suspend your disbelief a bit and get used to them, which is something that some people may not be willing to do.
I came in with zero expectations for Cyrano and came out happily surprised. Although I experienced it digitally, I really wish I had seen it in theatres. It’s an uneven film with a sporadic vision, but it’s held together by the glue of the timeless century-plus-old framework and the hard work and earnestness of the cast.