Say what you want about the French, but at least when the elements are right, they can come up with some great films worthy of recognition. Jean-Paul Rappeneau’s remake of Cyrano De Bergerac is no exception. With all due respect to Jose Ferrer’s great performance in the original 1950 version, I have to say that only the French would’ve done such a great adaptation of this classic play, which happens to be French.The film is the story of… well, duh, Cyrano De Bergerac (Gerard Depardieu), a fierce swashbuckling soldier of the French Army with a huge talent for poetry in the 17th Century. He has a problem; he feels that his long nose has always been the tripping stone for him finding true romance. Case in point, his beautiful cousin Roxanne (Anne Brochet) has always been the girl of his dreams, and both of them share poetry feverishly, only that there’s a problem. Three, actually: Cyrano is too shy and his long nose bothers him AND, Roxanne is in love of another man, the young Christian De Neuvillette (Vincent Perez), who happens to be one of the cadets in Cyrano’s squad. But Christian doesn’t have the talent for poetry that Cyrano has, so he and Cyrano make a deal, that Cyrano will write the poetry for him to deliver to Roxanne. She falls in love with the supposed author even more, but never knows who the real author is, and our Cyrano is sadder than ever, and the war with the Spaniards is closing in.
"Only The French Would Do It"
Director Rappeneau and screenwriter Jean-Claude Carriere (The Unbearable Lightness Of Being) immediately stay truthful to the play and the film centers completely in the three main characters, though the film shoves its staging (where the film takes place) to the background too deep that at times it may be a little disappointing. The film is centered in the period of the war between the French and the Spanish in the 17th century, which the film crew do an excellent job in realistically depicting, praise the production designers and set decorators for this, but were not given enough specific details or development of the how’s and the why’s of this war simply because the movie decides to focus on the love triangle between Cyrano, Roxanne and Christian. Not that it’s a bad thing, but a little background development would’ve been better and a little more helpful since it would add a little more eloquence in the unquestionably exciting battle scenes between the French an the Spanish.
The other problem is, like many other play adaptations, the long dialogue. At times the long, rambling dialogue will annoy the viewers from time to time, especially in the beginning part where Cyrano gives out his reasons for his long nose, but the only way that this problem is counter arrested is through diligent acting, and that’s one of the pluses in the film. I’ll get to that later. But the long rambling dialogue has an upside, and that is when it comes to the romantic poetry, which of course, accompanied with the acting, gives out the best moments of the film, and after that, the film takes off. The battle scenes as said, are great, all elements of comedy and drama fall in the right places, and like the old phrase says: It grabs you and never lets you go. Congrats to Rappeneau and Carriere for this effort
But, and as I said, most of the praise has to go to the acting department. Gerard Depardieu gives the performance of a lifetime as Cyrano. I also had certain doubts of him doing this character due to his physical presence (in other words, he’s the French Russell Crowe), but he steps on a role and the role becomes him, and the magic soon starts playing like a grand piano. Man, there wasn’t a single time that I wasn’t rooting for our friend Cyrano, and Depardieu’s performance helps a lot, since he brings a lot of life and realism to his character. Anne Brochet is also great as Roxanne, Cyrano’s hidden love interest, but the man that surprised me was Vincent Perez. When I read his name in the cover, The Crow: City Of Angels and I Dreamed Of Africa, came to mind, and of course, I was expecting him to be the downside of this film since, honestly, he fucking sucked in these two aforementioned movies. But surprise, he does really well here, and I enjoyed him a lot, and somehow, I felt sorry for his character. The rest of the supporting cast was also well above standards.In the end, if you like romantic dramas, this film is for you. Get over the subtitles and rent this film, and watch it with somebody you love. Thank Goodness that the French finally did a great film, and cut back on their extremely stylish, avant-garde bullshit, and gave us this film, and it didn’t disappoint. Recommended for anybody who loves somebody or needs somebody to love.
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originally posted: 08/11/02 00:05:32