Overegged direction and forgettable songs leave the ever great Dinklage and Sicily’s glorious scenery with too much work to do
Peter Dinklage is the latest actor to take on the rather thankless role of Cyrano de Bergerac (others include José Ferrer, Gérard Depardieu and Steve Martin), the poet, swordsman and wit so insecure in his looks that he uses a handsome thicko as a kind of human sock puppet to woo the love of his life, Roxanne (an apple-cheeked and appealing Haley Bennett). Dinklage is a world-class acting talent who is more than able to hold his own against the rather overegged directing style of Joe Wright, who never saw a frame he didn’t want to fill with jostling extras and livestock. But even Dinklage struggles with Cyrano’s musical component, a selection of shapeless, virtually tuneless songs. The best thing about the original compositions is that they are at least easily forgettable.
Meanwhile, the screenplay embraces the wallowing tragedy of the story, but is less successful at conveying Cyrano’s parrying humour. It’s as though an essential part of the character’s appeal is missing; the knock-on effect is that the film’s glorious scenery and Sicilian backdrop end up doing rather a lot of heavy lifting.