Bond has left active service and is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica. His peace is short-lived when his old friend Felix Leiter from the CIA turns up asking for help. The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.
There have been many great actors who have played Cyrano De Bergerac over time, including Jose Ferrer, Christopher Plummer, and Gerard Depardieu. If you count that, Kevin Kline and Steve Martin — and why not? The 1987 comedy Roxanne.
Peter Dinklage is the latest addition to their distinguished cast. He’s the only actor who doesn’t wear a fake nose to play the role. It’s not Cyrano’s small stature that makes him feel unworthy of Roxanne Bennett, the woman he adores, but it’s not a big deal.
This isn’t the only departure from Edmond Rostand’s 1897 tragicomic play. Erica Schmidt adapted this solid, sometimes charming movie from her 2019 stage musical. Members of the group The National provided the score and songs. The story is set sometime between the 17th and 18th centuries. Their sad, sweet melodies add a modern twist to it. While Cyrano de Bergerac is usually placed in Paris, the movie was filmed primarily in Sicily and didn’t precisely.
It’s the same story, except for those minor changes. Cyrano is a well-known and respected soldier in King’s Army. His exceptional swordsmanship and sharp wit have made him formidable enemies, such as Count de Guiche (played by a scowling Ben Mendelsohn).
Cyrano is deeply in love with Roxanne, a friend for many years who admires his fiery spirit and his ability to communicate. Roxanne is now in love with Christian, a young, handsome soldier who joined Cyrano’s regiment. He’s played by the outstanding Kelvin Henry Jr. Cyrano assumes the intermediary role and even writes Roxanne eloquent love notes, passing them off as Christian’s.
Roxanne stands in her bedroom window at the end of this absurd romantic triangle. The hopelessly inarticulate Christian attempts to seduce Roxanne while Cyrano lurks in the shadows. Cyrano eventually takes control and gives Roxanne full vocalization of his passionate feelings.
A charming old-fashioned elegance characterizes Wright’s filmmaking, thanks to Sarah Greenwood, the production designer, and Jacqueline Durran (costume designers Massimo Cantini Pararini and Jacqueline Durran). They were Oscar-nominated here for their stunning work.
Wright’s camera control is fluid and graceful, as he has done in previous films like Pride & Prejudice or Anna Karenina. This allows us to see the actors and dancers move through space without any of the fussy cutting that you find in many modern movie musicals. Bennett is a trained singer and delivers the movie’s most robust musical performance. Roxanne brings to life her emotional life whenever she’s asked to sing.
Dinklage also has musical experience — he was the frontman for a 90s punk band called Whizzy. He expresses Cyrano’s deepest desires with a rich, soulful baritone. He is an excellent choice for the role. Like Tyrion Lannister on Game of Thrones HTML, Cyrano, who is easy to underestimate, but challenging to defeat in a battle of the wits or with weapons, is Dinklage’s perfect portrayal of him.
Dinklage shows the deep pain at Cyrano’s core and makes you feel the sting of his unrequited love. While some may not like Dinklage’s lack of a big nose, something about Dinklage’s performance makes it all more powerful.
This disarming sincerity applies to the entire movie. Although it is not always the most elegant retelling of the tale, it is hard not to admire Wright’s convictions and sometimes his wild audacity. An actual director would not have chosen to film a dramatic battle scene at 16,000ft above sea level on the side of Mount Etna. This volcano is active. This bold flourish is sure to be a highlight, but it also fits for a story about operatic passion.
Fun fact: Dinklage, Schmidt, the screenwriter, are married, as is Bennett, the film’s director, Joe Wright. It’s a romantic behind-the-scenes footnote to a film that is unabashedly romantic.
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