The Words Of A Lifetime

Stars:  Peter Dinklage, Kelvin Harrison, Jr., Haley Bennett, Ben Mendelsohn and Bashar Salahuddin
Director: Joe Wright
Scriptwriter: Erica Schmidt from her stage play “Cyrano” in 2018
Composers: Bryce Dessner and Aaron Dessner
Cinematography: Seamus McGarvey
Rating: PG 13
Running Length: 125 Minutes 

The play, “Cyrano de Bergerac” (1897) was a hit on the stage and later in two film versions, one starring the late Jose Ferrer as the man with a large nose who loves a woman but is realistic about his appearance. Later, Steve Martin took on the role of Cyrano, the man who writes beautiful poetry but can’t say the words, himself, to his beloved.  In 2022 we have Erica Schmidt writing an adaptation of her stage play. Instead of a large nose, Cyrano is played by Peter Dinklage (“Game of Thrones”) a dwarf. The music is beautiful and the actors have wonderful singing voices. The music score by Bryce Dessner and Aaron Dessner lingers in the mind, especially the songs “Every Letter” and “Somebody Desperate.” 

As this story goes, it is 17th century France and Cyrano (Dinklage) is a friend to Christian (Kelvin Harrison, Jr.) and both are smitten by the beautiful Roxanne (Haley Bennett.) She and Cyrano are friends, but he really loves her. Christian wants to declare his emotions to Roxanne, but cannot do it in the pleasing poetic phrases of that time. He asks Cyrano to provide him with words and this is where the humorous part of the film comes to the forefront. Christian is supposedly reading his poetry to Roxanne who is on a balcony. It is Cyrano, in the shadows, who provides the prompts. Later, Roxanne is to be married to a rich nobleman, but secretly falls in love with Christian and they have a private wedding. Roxanne is taken by Christian’s words and thinks they will continue through the marriage. Alas, that is not so, because blunt-spoken Christian can’t provide words without Cyrano.  The country is now at war and the men, both Cyrano and Christian are drafted into battle. (At this point, have handkerchief ready) The musical background and songs fit like a glove with the story and Haley Bennett’s voice is outstanding. Her Roxanne has both delight and passion, and the men, Dinklage and Harrison, Jr., also bring passion to their lyrics. 

What comes through the film is the fact that people think they are not good enough. Cyrano because of his height doesn’t think he is good enough for Roxanne, and Christian because of his lack of poetic ability doesn’t think he is good enough for Roxanne, who wonders if she is good enough, period. “Good enough” is a haunting phrase and once it is in someone’s mind, they can perceive being not good enough forever.. In 17th century France, “not good enough” even goes to being a soldier. Three words and they can change a lifetime. 

Seamus McGarvey is the Cinematographer, and the lighting, lush set design, and beautifully crafted fashions all play a role in just where the camera is aimed. From a bar brawl to a dark patio to a war scene, the camera is part of the cast. Joe Wright’s direction moves the characters to get the utmost from clothing to shadows to facial expressions. “Cyrano” will surely be nominated in many fields at Oscar nomination time, for Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Music Score, Best Song, Best Film and Best Cinematography. This will give “West Side Story” a run for the gold statues. 


Copyright 2022 Marie Asner