I’m still hoping to see all of the nominated films prior to the Oscars, so I was excited that Cyrano (Costume Design Nominee) hit theaters this weekend. That famous original story of imposter syndrome carried through the ages with varying levels of interpretation. While I have read and seen other adaptations, somehow it escaped my attention that this version was a musical. I was pleasantly surprised.
Before I get too into what I felt when I watched this, I have to say that Peter Dinklage gives a next-level performance as Cyrano. The scene in which we first meet him, he is surrounded by an audience reveling through his pontification and degradation of phony actors. You know, a little irony to get things going. What starts out as a a near poetry rap-battle evolves into a life or death duel. Throughout his presentation, Cyrano often catches the eye of Roxanne, (Haley Bennett), and we can nearly see his heart swell with long felt loyalty and admiration. His eyes fill with sensitivity as he delivers his stanzas with wit and Robin Hood-like graciousness.
I admit that while hearing the name Roxanne uttered over and over again, I forced a connection with a familiar tune. It made me wonder, does The Police’s song “Roxanne'” have more depth than I realize? And why did I think it had to do with some woman in Amsterdam? How do I not know these things before I know them? But I digress…
The story of Cyrano highlights the many ways we hide behind our truths, wrestling with fear and self-doubt against desire. A masquerade. Cyrano’s pride prevents him from professing his feelings with Roxanne. When he learns of her love for a new recruit named Christian, (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), Cyrano literally stands behind him. Using Christian’s outer beauty, Cyrano delivers poetry that woos Roxanne and makes Christian seem brilliant and beautiful.
Happiness. Hunger. Fear.
The dancing musical numbers provide backdrops of elegance and creativity, but that’s not where the magic is. The magic is all Dinklage. I was moved to tears more than once as he pulled me into his heart. The longing is intense; the feeling of not being good enough is remarkably personal. There’s an especially intimate scene when Cyrano is writing to her, and she’s reading the words during the song “Every Letter.” Christian joins as a conduit of passion, and the trio recklessly harmonize through words of truth.
In case we aren’t already relating to this unrequited love triangle, in comes the song “Wherever I Fall.” Simple and mostly spoken, soldiers sharing their own untold love stories. It’s in line with the inevitable heartbreak that is mounting in this well-known tragedy. Another gentle reminder there may be greater risk in hiding our feelings than shouting them from the rooftops.
To love someone that madly? I felt it.