With at least eleven faithful and a dozen loose adaptations of Cyrano de Bergerac committed to film, Wright’s return to top romantic form stands out as a musical. The plot remains the same: soldier and poet Cyrano makes his reputation through a fierce wit and faster sword but believes himself unworthy of his beloved Roxanne due to his appearance. When Roxanne declares love at first sight for the tongue-tied Christian, Cyrano becomes his rival’s voice. It cannot end well. 

Schmidt’s adaptation of Rostand’s scintillating dialogue is supplemented by songs from The National, plaintive melodies and martial drums working to the performers’ strengths without losing the poetry. The original form is only missed in two monologues, elevated and electrified by Dinklage’s incandescent delivery. The actor has long excelled as the smartest, sharpest, and often deadliest person in a room; as Cyrano’s charisma and worldliness work overtime to mask a heart breaking by degrees, his tragic hero’s longing stops time and steals breath. This is highest, truest romance.

Among the supporting cast, Bennett captures Roxanne’s cleverness, passion, and the self-absorption she grows through. Harrison Jr. brings emotional intelligence and pathos to the often-overlooked Christian. Mendelsohn’s de Guiche evokes Roxborough’s Duke in Moulin Rouge! with more menace.

Wright largely forgets mid-shots, relishing close-ups on his expressive cast or wide angles capturing stunning Sicilian locations. While occasionally ostentatious for ostentatiousness’ sake (as when Cyrano obliterates ten assassins in a faux single take), he is clearly as enamoured with this tale as Roxanne’s two suitors are with their muse. In a film that wears its heart on its sleeve so beautifully, restraint would be in poorer taste. 

While not definitive, Wright’s vision and Dinklage’s performance are for the books. Achingly sincere, maximally romantic, and gorgeously created under pandemic conditions, Cyrano is a love letter itself. 



CAST: Peter Dinklage, Haley Bennett, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Ben Mendelsohn, Monica Dolan, Bashir Salahuddin

DIRECTOR: Joe Wright

WRITER: Erica Schmidt (adapted from her stage version, adapted from Edmond Rostand’s 1897 play) 

SYNOPSIS: Cyrano de Bergerac begins writing love letters to woo his beloved Roxanne for another man in this musical adaptation of the classic play.