‘Cyrano’ (2022): A Bittersweet Tale of Unrequited Love and Self-Acceptance

This musical portrait of the 17th-century Frenchman boasts an inventive, self-reflexive treatment that successfully enriches and builds upon the endearing essence of its source material.

Cyrano de Bergerac, a historical figure from 17th-century France, has been the subject of numerous adaptations across various mediums, showcasing the tale’s timeless and malleable nature. First introduced to general audiences as the titular character in Edmond Rostand’s 1897 play, Cyrano’s character and his struggles offer today’s audiences a perfect canvas through which they can discover renewed meaning and emotional appeal.

The most recent cinematic adaptation of the story is based more on the 2018 musical production written by Erica Schmidt than Rostand’s interpretation, but is no less meaningful or memorable. Indeed, its creative license makes for an original and refreshing update. In exchanging Cyrano’s signature trait—his abnormally pronounced nose—with achondroplasia, Schmidt and director Joe Wright present a different, arguably more grounded, intimate, and relatable dynamic that still retains the essence of the original.

Similar to his theatrical counterpart from 1897, Cyrano (played by Peter Dinklage) possesses quick-wittedness, steadfastness, passion, and loyalty. However, he is burdened by a malady that leaves him self-conscious and insecure. Despite exuding confidence and charisma, he grapples with internal torments stemming from a negative self-image. Ironically, this distorted self-worth serves as both a strength and a weakness. His ongoing struggle to reconcile his self-perception with how others see him is heightened by the physical embodiment of the character.

Cyrano’s plight strikes a deeper emotional chord because of its self-aware and transcendent presentation. His journey brings attention to individuals who may encounter similar insecurities or outright prejudices due to their defiance of societal norms and expectations.

Peter Dinklage’s performance, together with the addition of musical accompaniment, ignites the kind of pathos and ethos only achievable through the euphonious simultaneity of image and sound. The proportion of song to dialogue strikes just the right balance to arouse profound depth of feeling without becoming too overbearing and/or over self-indulgent. The end result: a refreshingly poetic love story that surpasses the original and endears itself to the heart long after the credits roll.

Cyrano is available on Vudu, Prime Video, Apple TV, and MGM+.