Cyrano searches for a voice in song

Mon. February 21, 2022 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn

Cyrano de Bergerac, a play written in 1987, is now updated in 2022 with a musical version by twin brothers from rock band The National. The story is based on the real-life of a person but has been twisted in so many different ways over the years it is hard to tell what parts are true from the original history. The overall storyline follows a person who feels undeserving in love who helps someone else by telling them the right things to say as a suitor and fooling the love interest in the process until the truth ultimately comes to light. 

Director Joe Wright has a strong background in cinematic period pieces such as Pride & Prejudice and Anna Karenina among others. He brought his wife Haley Bennett along to play Roxanne and Peter Dinklage portrays the title character in the piece after they were both in the previously staged version. Erica Schmidt crafted the screenplay after this adaptation did well as a stage musical in 2018. 

From the opening scene, the set and costuming are both quite striking and quickly transport the viewer into another world. The wigs and makeup go on thicker than an episode of RuPaul's Drag Race and feminity contained a power at that time that was celebrated in high society. 

The actors deliver their lines very casually and do a good job of making the dialogue understandable to modern listeners. Dinklage enters his first scene with style and panache as he swings down into a crowd of onlookers. He eventually switches into singing with a Hamilton style of rap and speaking his lyrics accompanied by a chorus of voices.

Kelvin Harrison, Jr. brings his jazz music upbringing to the table and he fares well with the material. He was surprisingly cast as Christian de Neuvillette late in the process of curating Cyrano as a film after the stage version. His rendition of "Someone to Say" hit all the right notes and he was a joy to watch onscreen. 

More melodic than Annette and easier to swallow than The Last Duel, Cyrano is clearly watchable thanks to the talented cast and crew. As a musical, Cyrano takes a cue from feature film musicals like Les Miserable and La La Land. The dance sequences and lyrics advance the plot but don't capture attention on their own or stand a chance of becoming a surprise hit like "We Don't Talke About Bruno" from Encanto. 

Cyrano doesn't need to be a musical at all and that halts the momentum when it should be building to the end. This Cyrano dressed for success though as the garments throughout the film are certainly deserving of the recent Academy Award nomination for Best Costume Design. 

Cyrano's tale doesn't need singalong music to enhance the storyline and instead could have used some simple expansion on the general story. The lovesick Cyrano struggles with his place in society and that is something everyone can relate to in one way or another. He needs to find his voice once and for all so we can celebrate his success together. We want him to win and he deserves to after so many decades of suffering in this classic book. Thanks to Dinklage's portrayal, Cyrano de Bergerac is an elevated and complex character that we can sympathize with as a sad and frustrated poet.

Cyrano swings into theaters Friday, February 25, 2022, and should be seen at the cinema if possible for the breathtaking art direction alone.