Cyrano is surprisingly good! Powered by a stellar performance from Peter Dinklage, and ably assisted by Haley Bennett, the movie tells the powerful story of a man’s unrequited love so strong that, in the end, it consumes him completely.
In previous movie productions of Cyrano, the Cyrano with the large nose was reinforced with obvious prosthetics. These movies suffered from the distinct problem of turning the Cyrano character into someone with a comical appearance which has the effect of distancing the character from the audience.
This Cyrano changes that formula and creates a movie where the emotional engagement is deep and meaningful. By changing the physical issue from one of a problem nose to one of “short stature,” the nature of the relationship between Cyrano and the audience changes dramatically. It is no longer something comical, but something profoundly intrinsic to the man himself. Like a lot of people, I didn’t pay much attention to Dinklage before his outstanding performance in The Station Agent (2003). There he proved that his “short stature” did not diminish, in any way, his human, emotional capacity. Any remaining doubts of his talents were quickly dispelled with his powerful, Emmy-winning, performance as Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones.
As Cyrano, then, Dinklage brings an entirely different problem to the story other than a comical nose — a difference that drives the story in new and more interesting directions. We know Dinklage’s differences are not the result of some makeup prosthetics, but rather are at the core of his identity and, therefore, the challenges his Cyrano faces — presenting a “handsome” visage to his intended Roxanne — are much more grounded; the emotional impact is greatly intensified and, importantly, transferable to the audience.
Dinklage is so good in Cyrano that he forces our attention almost exclusively on him. It is true that this is a musical and his gravelly voice isn’t the best, but we also don’t care because we feel the honesty of his emotions. But can a single character carry an entire movie? Haley Bennett as Cyrano’s Roxanne is a good choice. She displays passion well and her scene in her bed virtually making love to the letters she has received is full of erotic energy. It also helps, since this is a musical, that she can sing. Her and Dinklage’s chemistry is further enhanced because they both starred in a stage production of Cyrano in 2018 and 2019. It should also be noted that Dinklage’s real-life wife, Erica Schmidt, wrote the screenplay for this movie while Bennett’s partner and father of her child, Joe Wright, directed it. Clearly there was a lot of intimate involvement leading to their inspired performances.
Despite two terrific actors Cyrano did not fare so well with either viewers or critics. The not-so-good audience reaction is based on only about 11,000 ratings which is very small for an Oscar-nominated film. Part of that might have been because of its limited distribution. Critical reaction, though, has been uniform — all thought Dinklage and Bennett were wonderful, and enjoyed the costumes, makeup, choreography, production design and location shots (filmed almost entirely in Sicily, Italy). But the one thing that consistently hurt the film in critical reviews was the music. Predictably, if you’re going to do a musical and the music isn’t “memorable,” then the movie is not likely to succeed. There are about a dozen original songs in this movie and while I didn’t think they were all that bad, you want something more — especially with Dinklage’s memorable performance. Two of the songs, “Madly” and “Wherever I Fall” are particularly good, but mostly for their lyrics — I can’t remember the melodies and I just watched the movie two days ago!
For a great evening’s entertainment, I recommend Cyrano. (4*) For more, visit MichaelsMovieMoments.com
2023 Oscar Predictions
Here are my predictions for how the Oscars will be awarded in the ceremony on March 12. These predictions are based, in part, on my Initial Analysis and Ranking of the movies. For details on the reasoning and more discussion backing up my predictions, go to MichaelsMovieMoments.com.
Here’s my track record which, admittedly, could be better:
2022: 10/23 (43%)
2021: 14/23 (61%)
2020: 8/24 (33%) – a bad year for me
2019: 15/24 (63%)
2018: 16/24 (67%)
My overall average is 53%, random chance would yield a little less than 20%. So, I invite the reader to peruse my predictions and then, of course, make your own based on how you think things will go down. So here we go, by category.
• Documentary Short Subject: How Do You Measure a Year?
• Animated Short Film: The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse
• Live Action Short Film: Night Ride
• Animated Feature Film: Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
• Documentary Feature: Navalny
• International Feature Film: All Quiet on the Western Front
• Original Song: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (“Lift Me Up”)
• Original Score: The Banshees of Inisherin
• Sound: All Quiet on the Western Front
• Makeup and Hairstyling: The Whale
• Costume Design: Everything Everywhere All at Once
• Production Design: All Quiet on the Western Front
• Visual Effects: All Quiet on the Western Front
• Cinematography: All Quiet on the Western Front
• Film Editing: Everything Everywhere All At Once
• Supporting Actor: Ke Huy Quan (Everything Everywhere All at Once)
• Supporting Actress: Jamie Lee Curtis (Everything Everywhere All at Once)
• Leading Actor: Colin Farrell (The Banshees of Inershin)
• Leading Actress: Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All at Once)
• Adapted Screenplay: Berger/Paterson/Stokell (All Quiet on the Western Front)
• Original Screenplay: Martin McDonagh (The Banshees of Inisherin)
• Director: Martin McDonagh (The Banshees of Inisherin)
• Best Picture: The Banshees of Inisherin
Again, for more explanation of why I made these predictions, go to MichaelsMovieMoments.com . After the Oscar ceremony, I will write a recap and fess up to my poor judgments…