Cyrano is now playing in theatres nationwide.
Historical tales of complicated love often surround Joe Wright. His triple-threat of Pride & Prejudice, Atonement and Anna Karenina emphasise an evident penchant for popular literature that is adored with sensuality, the forbidden clasping of hands, or a whisper and longing gaze. He captures the delicate sentimentality of passion throughout the ages, adorning much of his work with the label of ‘classic’ in the romantic drama sub-genre. He returns once more with his musical adaptation of Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac, taking everything he’s learned and distilling it into the pure essence of Wrightian romanticism.
Cyrano’s plot may seem innately familiar, and that’s for a good reason; after all, this is a story translated on film multiple times over many years. The quick-witted and charming knave Cyrano (Peter Dinklage) has always loved Roxanne (Hayley Bennett). But the prejudice around his appearance keeps him from confessing his love, and he therefore reluctantly assists the beautiful-but-banal Christian (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) in wooing her. Only someone at skilful as Peter Dinklage could represent the conflict between Cyrano’s charmingly youthful candour and his soul, both trapped in the constant battle for the heart of this lovable rogue. It’s a true crime that Dinklage was locked out of the Best Actor race, as this is one of the best performances of his entire career so far.
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Dinklage, Bennett and Harrison Jr. are marvellous to watch as they engage in a passionate repartee with one another, sparking off each other with such fierce chemistry that safety goggles should be distributed before a screening. Harrison Jr. and Bennett are set to become the stars of tomorrow. They dance through playfulness, joy, and melancholy like a simple waltz, flagrantly showing off their incredible talent. It’s often difficult to carve out your own place against such a complexly magnificent lead as Dinklage, but Bennett and Harrison Jr. make it look like child’s play.
Wright has created what can only be described as the ultimate ballad of unrequited love. Here he paints his world with vibrant colour and language as we witness Cyrano’s puppetry of Christian as an illusory mouthpiece to Roxanne. While at the same time, he imbues his movie with warm autumnal hues and glowing rays of light that allow Sicily’s Noto to glisten incandescently. Here entire rooms emanate radiant azures and hazels, the inner emotions of our characters reflected back upon them across the walls, floors, and ceilings.
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It’s this very use of colour that portrays Cyrano’s darkest and most turbulent moments at the hands of Ben Mendelsohn’s De Guiche, the dastardly duke with designs on Roxanne. Here the colour drains from Wright’s lens, as though the world itself has been struck into the melancholy shared by Cyrano and Christian as they’re forced into a national conflict, only to find the actual conflict lies within their shared love for one woman. Wright transports us to such majestic landscapes of death and morbidity during this time but equally manages to capture a beauty in the darkness, inspiring a glimmer of hope.
Snaring The National’s Bryce & Aaron Dessner is an inspired choice, as the composition of strings and percussion ignite the feeling of one’s heart-swelling. Cyrano uses music like humanity uses air, taking its very lifeforce from each note. Building upon Erica Schmidt’s 2018 stage musical, Wright stages a delicate balance of theatricality as he enchants his romantic ballad with the everyday motions of life, revealing the innate rhythmic pulse of our actions.
With such careful consideration to every layer of its creation and its unadulterated celebration of emotion, Joe Wright has crafted a beguiling poem of unrequited love and an intimate whisper between two friends. With such confidence in its creativity and vulnerable pathos, this is possibly Joe Wright’s masterpiece.
Wright stages a delicate balance of theatricality as he enchants his romantic ballad with the everyday motions of life, revealing the innate rhythmic pulse of our actions.