Director: Joe Wright
Writer: Erica Schmidt
Starring: Peter Dinklage, Haley Bennett, Kevin Harrison Jr, and Ben Mendelsohn
Review: Man, I wish I had a Cyrano to write up my reviews. He’s so elegant and witty and I, while not completely unskilled, am not. I write in very plain English about the movies that I love (and, well, more than a few that I don’t). But, you know, you get what you get. Not everyone can be a great French poet. Anywho… let’s get to the review, shall we? Because Cyrano is quite good and definitely worth talking about more than it’s one Costume Design Oscar nomination would have you believe.
Honestly, after seeing it, I’m quite surprised the Oscars didn’t give Cyrano more love. Because, like most Joe Wright films, it’s almost technically perfect. The sets are visually impressive. The costumes are works of art. The cinematography is gorgeous. And, while subtle compared to many musicals, the dance choreography fits the tone and message of this movie perfectly. Seriously, this movie is absolutely gorgeous. Every scene feels like a painting come to life. And the emotion Wright is able to get simply out of his camera work is amazing. There’s a scene where he shoots Haley Bennett so personally and passionately that you can feel the love radiating off of the screen, even though she is alone and barely speaking. It’s so effective in getting us to care for her character just as much as our two male leads do. It’s an incredible piece of visual storytelling and just one example of how Wright makes this oft-told story work so well.
But, the real takeaway for me absolutely has to be Peter Dinklage as Cyrano himself. He is so perfectly suited for this role that you’d think it was written for him, even though you know the play was written over a hundred years ago and based on a real person. Still, the wit, the charm, the heartbreak, and the self-loathing feel like someone saw Tyrion on Game of Thrones and plopped him over into another movie. Yet, it’s almost more effective here because Cyrano wasn’t born into money and isn’t guaranteed anything in life. He has to build his own reputation and take his blows more often than a Lannister ever would. All of this gives a fantastic showcase of Dinklage’s acting abilities. And, of course, he absolutely crushes it. I wish the Best Actor field wasn’t so crowded because he definitely has earned his spot among those five nominees. It’s a shame he wasn’t nominated. Maybe we can just pretend that one of the trophies he took home for Game of Thrones was actually for this. Or, you know, hope he gets another Oscar-worthy role because he’s definitely an Oscar-worthy actor.
Unfortunately, while I definitely respected the work and talent that went into making Cyrano and I do like the story, I never found myself completely loving the movie. I think that mostly came down to the music. Now, I will be the first to admit that my music knowledge is slim at best. I cannot write music. I can’t even really tell you why good music is good. And, Cyrano was nominated for a Tony in 2018, so it’s obviously well-regarded. But… I don’t know. I just found most of the songs to be incredibly dull. Like, for most of them, I would’ve almost preferred for the characters to just talk their lines. This is weird because I’m normally such a big musical person. This one though just felt a bit unnecessary. The only exception to me was the song where the soldiers sang their letters to home out loud. That song was super powerful and very well done. I loved it. As for the rest, let’s just say this is the first recent musical I’ve left and didn’t listen to the soundtrack on the way home. None of these songs are making my Spotify wrapped this year.
Overall, I do definitely think Cyrano is a movie worth experiencing though. While I don’t think the music was particularly strong, it just has too much artistry on display to ignore. Peter Dinklage gives one of the absolute best performances of the year. Also, it’s pretty much perfectly made with beautiful scenery and some breathtaking visual storytelling from Joe Wright. Definitely deserved more than it’s one Oscar nomination. Oh well. Just goes to prove that the Academy doesn’t always know what’s best.
TL;DR: The combined talents of director Joe Wright and star Peter Dinklage make Cyrano a worthwhile take on an oft-told tale.
Score: 7/10 (Good)