“Cyrano” is not a nose story

The Universal Studio had announced that it would give up the release in France, before changing its mind: the film by Joe Wright had little success in the United States and Great Britain, the Major feared an even worse failure in the “country of Cyrano”. and if it was the opposite?

It is not a question here of predicting a commercial success, but of pointing out how much this very disruptive Monsieur de Bergerac with Broadway-Hollywood sauce at least has something to intrigue in the native lands of Edmond Rostand.

Edmond, precisely, and his considerable success on the stage and then on the screen, came to remind us at the end of the previous decade how much the Gascon with the capital siskin remains a cult figure. And it makes sense that one of the best books ever written about cinema and how it fits into a culture is aptly titled The Cyrano Complexby the essential Michel Chion.

So far from the pusillanimous reflex prohibiting in advance anyone from touching a national monument, a monument doubled by the wonderful filming by Jean-Paul Rappeneau and Gérard Depardieu. The works, all the works, are made so that we can touch them – which does not justify that we can do it anyhow.

A fun analyzer

It is therefore necessary to pay attention to what precisely this film produces, the Cyrano by Mr. Wright. Which turns out to be a rather delightful analyzer of the tropisms of “American-style” shows, as the dear Jacques Tati said, but also of what is important in the founding work.

It is necessary for that, if one would be like the author of these lines an enthusiast of Hercule Savinien and verses of mirliton of Rostand, not to accept by twisting the pif the considerable displacement operated by the film but to rejoice in it greatly. To lend oneself to the game of multiple variations, without fundamentalism or complacency is undoubtedly the best way to look at this production.

Cyrano, therefore, no longer has a big nose. His nose is even very small, like the rest of his person (1m38), since Monsieur de Bergerac is played by Peter Dinklage, unforgettable for anyone who has seen Game of Throneswhich is a lot of people.

There is nothing unfaithful to the spirit of the play, whose main dramatic spring lies in a physical appearance outside the dominant norms, and not necessarily the size of a siskin, be it a peak, a rock or even a peninsula.

Consequently, a variant of which it is difficult to see what would be unacceptable, the famous tirade of the noses is replaced by a less situated claim of the right to be different, which is above all a violent denunciation of the humiliations suffered, by a character who will never mention its size.

legitimate violence

The only passage whose text recalls (a little) the prosody of the original – this Cyran-there is obviously not in alexandrines – this scene of a sword duel at the same time as verbal is above all of a brutality which distances it from the original, and there is no reason to complain about it . There is anger in this confrontation, a legitimate anger which may well be that of the performer as much as of the character.

Improbable cadets from Gascony, Cyrano and Christian (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) seal the pact that will allow them both to express themselves. | Universal

The duel scene concentrates several of the characteristics of this adaptation, one of the main ones being that the diversity here is much more diverse than the nasal appendage alone: ​​Cyrano is a dwarf, Christian (Kelvin Harrison Jr, who played Fred Hampton in The Chicago Seven) and Captain Le Bret are black, we will also see gays, let the French crusaders be moved.

For the main female role, the choice of Haley Bennett, a young woman of today very far from the classic bimbo or the vintage doll that one might expect, is also part of this strategy. His Roxane inherits a significantly more active presence than usual, and where desire – and not just Love with a capital A – has its place.

Carnal and determined, a Roxane outside of stereotypes. | Universal

The detour via Broadway

This Cyrano is not exactly an adaptation of Rostand’s play. The film is more exactly the screen production of a musical comedy written by Erica Schmidt (who is also the wife of Peter Dinklage).

So we sing and we dance there, according to the return to favor in Hollywood of the musicala phenomenon that may be due to the success of La La Landand recently experienced with Annette, Licorice Pizza, Cher Evan Hansen and West Side Story four other very different manifestations.

We will keep a compassionate silence on the choreographies, but the music (due to the group The National), the costumes and make-up sometimes closer to the Casanova by Fellini that of the Comédie-Française, are part of a set of proposals which have the merit of referring to the original without ever claiming to reproduce it.

We write there, too, there is something nice, including in its applied side to wanting to give pride of place to the act of writing, on which the English director insists as a practice in itself tinged with heroism – as well as crossing enemy lines every day to get them to someone else’s Dulcinea.

The letters, the words, the graphic signs on the paper are omnipresent and intriguing figures, with powers tinged with magic and courage – which is very faithful to Rostand. | Universal

Thoughtful and sentimental, the film? Certainly, but no more than the original piece, and with an energy renewed by the elements of violence assumed, during the fights of Cyrano, and especially in the transposition of the siege of Arras in bitter war in an icy and dark setting.

No more question of joking with the “gun of the Gascons which never retreats”, one dies there as in war, without lace.

Cyrano without wigs

It is especially necessary to lend the ear, and the glance, to this evidence: since 1897, the nose of Cyrano is a hairpiece, which the actor removes when the representation ends. This time being a dwarf is the actual condition of the main performer. The unfortunate who will come to make fun of it will not be touched at the end of the sending, he will be killed, and in a very bloody way.

What this Cyrano and his interpreter say, with virulence and sometimes ill-mannered fury, partly serves as a substitute for the brilliance of Rostand’s replies. To this angry side made during the virtuosity of the game of Peter Dinklage, remarkable actor capable of changing register with an impressive mastery.

He thus partly saves the regrettable shortcuts, such as the inability to leave De Guiche the possibility of evolving, Hollywood seeming not to resign itself to depriving itself of a villain in good and due form. This drift leads to the sabotage of the fifth act, the only really disappointing one.

But, even if the decisive word disappears, replaced inappropriately by “pride” (pride), this mutation of Cyrano will not have completely wiped out its panache.

Jean-Michel Frodon’s film reviews are to be found in the show “Cultural Affinities” by Tewfik Hakem, Saturdays from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. on France Culture.

Cyrano

de Joe Wright

avec Peter Dinklage, Haley Bennett, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Ben Mendelsohn, Bashir Salahuddin

Sessions

Duration: 2h04

Released: March 30, 2022


Source: Slate.fr by www.slate.fr.

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