Cyrano (2021, Joe Wright)

Cyrano has good production design from Sarah Greenwood and costumes by Massimo Cantini Parrini. And there’s one time Ben Mendelsohn doesn’t seem terrible. And I suppose his musical number is the most personality the film ever shows because it’s like a really shitty Disney number, like a “Disney’s jumped the shark with that one” type thing.

Otherwise, Cyrano is a dumpster fire.

The film’s a musical, based on a stage musical by screenwriter Erica Schmidt, songs by Bryce Dessner, Aaron Dessner, and Matt Berninger, and music by the Dessners. All of the writing is bad. The songs, the music, the adaptation. All of it. Bad.

Now, Wright’s direction is terrible—particularly of the actors when saying lines of dialogue to one another, but still. The writing’s bad. Wright does risible work throughout—the war scene’s inept and embarrassing, both for the viewer and cinematographer Seamus McGarvey, who’s never impressive but never inept like Wright. Not until that war scene. Then Cyrano looks as silly as it plays, which the rest of the film usually avoids.

Now, it does always sound as silly it plays. The Dessners’ musical score is omnipresent because someone understands the flat delivery from the cast is a problem and so there needs to be some emotion somewhere. Even if it’s the bad music. But then there’s the singing.

So, Peter Dinklage as Cyrano. It’s a stunt cast. Fine. He’s not good. He’s sometimes awkwardly, uncomfortably bad (while still better than most of his costars), but he also cannot sing. And Cyrano is a musical. So Dinklage sludges through ever song and the more he sings the worse the number. It’s bewildering and starts early enough there’s no time Cyrano isn’t barreling down a mountain away from the tracks.

Now, while Dinklage can’t sing, his leading lady can’t sing or act. Haley Bennett’s the object of his affection and she’s bad. She’s bad opposite Dinklage, she’s bad opposite himbo Kelvin Harrison Jr., she’s bad opposite aspiring rapist Mendelsohn. Her singing numbers are lousy and seem like someone really wished they got to direct a Sarah McLachlan video in 1994 but didn’t get the job and has been stewing over it for thirty years.

How old’s Wright?

Anyway.

Himbo Harrison. He’s not good either. He’s the least disastrous casting, however. The film does a particularly bad job establishing Harrison’s character, specifically Schmidt’s script. The material’s just not there. But Wright also does a terrible job directing Harrison and Dinklage’s pseudo-friendship. Somewhere in the third act it’s clear the relationship needed to be strong but it’s barely trifling.

Dinklage already has a best bro in Bashir Salahuddin, who’s not bad like most of the cast, possibly because Salahuddin doesn’t get too much material. Though Joshua James gets less than Salahuddin and is atrocious.

The cast and crew’s commitment to making a long, lousy movie could be seen as impressive so long as one doesn’t suffer the film itself.

Cyrano’s godawful, start to finish.

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