Starring: Peter Dinklage, Haley Bennett, Kelvin Harrison Jr, and Ben Mendelssohn.
Directed By: Joe Wright
Where I Watched it: VOD
English Audio Description Available?: Yes
Description Provided By: Deluxe
Narrated By: Laura Post
The Plot: A cinematic adaptation of the stage musical adaptation of the classic Cyrano de Bergerac story. So, it’s adaptception. An adaptation within an adaptation. In this version, Cyrano (Dinklage) is brilliant, but born considerably shorter than those around him, who make a mockery of him, despite how eloquent he is, and how terrific he is with a sword in combat. He also pines for his childhood friend, Roxanne (Bennett), who is the object of the Duke’s (Mendelsohn) nastiest dreams. But Roxanne feels love at first sight for a soldier (Harrison Jr), a pretty but dim witted individual who requires the verbose assistance of Cyrano if he is to win Roxanne’s heart. Of course, he’s pouring his own heart out in these poems, but Roxanne doesn’t know. Could she ever possibly love Cyrano?
What Works: Despite a mind boggling Oscar campaign that saw Cyrano hit theatres just before voting ended, giving it no time to build buzz, this isn’t a bad film. Peter Dinklage is quite good in this, as are Mendelsohn and Bennett. The latter of the two has never impressed me before, so this is a first.
I was not aware of this being a musical, nor had I ever heard of a stage production. I was somewhat impressed by a few of the songs, but most of them aren’t that good. But, some are. And, as someone who actually hasn’t really seen a faithful Cyrano adaptation before, this was as close as i have gotten. And to see Joe Wright rebound after that disastrous Pan was worth it. He’s a talented director who is going awry.
What Doesn’t Work: Kelvin Harrison Jr. is so forgettable in this. The songs feel like they were recorded live while filming, as many are speak singing anyway, especially one that requires Dinklage to do some bizarre iambic pentameter rap, but I’m not sure they heard the music. They in some parts don’t feel like they gel with the music track underneath them. instead of the two coming together to compliment each other in a collaborative form, there’s a bit of an off beat that creates just enough of an off kilter feel that makes you wonder how they chose to go about recording this.
I didn’t get the ending. I swear the time jump said three years, which makes the ending dumb and implausible. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil it for you. But that ending works if its 3 days, or 3 weeks. Three months would be a stretch, but I could live with that. But three years? no. Sorry, but no.
Many things went wrong to stop Peter Dinklage from getting his own Oscar nomination this year, and none of them had anything to do with the quality of his performance.
The Blind Perspective: It’s an odd thing, and I acknowledge this is stupid and there’s nothing to be done about it. But I oddly found myself paying more attention to the description of the costume design, considering that was this films only Oscar nomination. There are mentions of costumes, but it somehow felt underwhelming. Again, it’s not a real complaint, because the audio description would be done before the film is released, which would be before Oscar nominations came out. And we can’t go back through every single film and change the focus.
The audio description is what it needed to be, balancing the effect of the selection of making this a period piece, and having with that battle sequences, not just of the sword variety either. So, this narration was what it needed to be.
Final Thoughts: Overall, I’m predisposed to enjoy musicals. So, even when one isn’t as good as the rest, it still ends up being better just for being a musical. Add to that a trio of solid performances, and improved direction from Joe Wright, and I was mostly happy with this film. That ending though, I hope that’s not accurate to the book. Because if so… how?
Final Grade: B+