Trailer: Peter Dinklage is the Anguished Poet in ‘Cyrano’

Above image: R Haley Bennett stars as Roxanne and Peter Dinklage as Cyrano in Joe Wright’s CYRANO A Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film Photo credit: Peter Mountain © 2021 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.

From Jose Ferrer to Steve Martin to Gerard Depardieu, quite a formidable list of actors has taken on the challenging cinematic role of Cyrano de Bergerac, and Ferrer even won a 1951 Oscar for his efforts. The beloved character from Edward Rostand’s now immortal 1897 play is a man who can woo women with his remarkable gift for words, but who is tormented by self-consciousness about his unusual appearance – i.e. he has a very large nose.

Now in 2021, we live in a time when greater sensitivity to differences in appearance has been vigorously cultivated – while at the same time social media has just made people, well…quite a bit meaner. And a timely new film version of the timeless story, titularly truncated to Cyrano, will be arriving in theaters December 31 (via MGM) – the twist being that the title character is played by Peter Dinklage, whose condition of achondroplasia accounts for his height of just 4′ 5′. So he must win the love of a woman who can simply see beyond that, and love him for who he is.

Of course, Dinklage’s tremendous talent and charisma were at last fully done justice via his flawed but deeply philosophical Tyrion Lannister character in eight seasons of Game of Thrones. It was arguably the most commanding acting performance of the last decade. But here he takes on the role of the master of wordplay (and swordplay), who has fallen in love with Roxanne, a luminous Haley Bennett. All too aware of his physical stature, he enlists the handsome young solider Christian (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) to deliver her the lovelorn words he so ambivalently imparts to him.

The first trailer has arrived, and there’s every reason to believe Dinklage will be all but owning the film. It’s also a musical, though there doesn’t seem to be any indication that he has actually lent his pipes to that cause. The overall tone seems to toggle between sweetness (Roxanne earnestly tells Cyrano, “I’d be very angry with you if you died.”) and sadness, as his ruggedly handsome countenance seems often awash in quiet despondence. Though there’s a genuinely triumphant moment when some puffed up ponce sneers at him, “You’re a freak” (followed by a rather fey glove slap), and Cyrano unhesitatingly takes up swords with the snooty fellow, eventually using his blade end to snatch the offender’s wig from his otherwise bald head.

Still, the pathos hang heavy in the air as he laments, “The world will never accept someone like me, and a tall, beautiful woman.” Director Joe Wright (Pride & Prejudice, Darkest Hour) doesn’t flinch from the requisite cynicism, as we see Roxanne’s mum bluntly informing her, “Children need love, adults need money.” But while the production itself eschews the usual period puffery for somewhat more moody, viscerally lit atmospherics, the trailer actually closes with Cyrano bowing dramatically, romantically before the woman he adores, a moment of pure melodramatic heartstring-tugging.

Summing up the film’s essential predicament, Christian insists to Cyrano, “We must let her decide our fate. She must have the choice.” And more than a century after the play first appeared, whatever decision she makes will still say so much about the vagaries and whims of the human heart.

Above two images

Haley Bennett stars as Roxanne in Joe Wright’s CYRANO A Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film Photo credit: Peter Mountain © 2021 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Peter Dinklage stars as Cyrano and Bashir Salahuddin as Le Bret in Joe Wright’s CYRANO A Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film Photo credit: Peter Mountain © 2021 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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