Skillfully constructed and entertaining beyond measure, Cyrano, My Love is one of this year’s most enjoyable films, and whether or not you love the stage (or subtitles), this French feature comes highly recommended.
The feature is a fictionalized version of playwright Edmond Rostand’s journey into creating the French play Cyrano de Bergerac. We initially meet Rostand (Thomas Solivérès) at the premiere of The Distant Princess, a play penned in verse and headlined by the iconic Sarah Bernhardt (Clémentine Célarié).
Unfortunately The Distant Princess is universally panned, setting forth a two year journey of writer’s block for Rostand. His wife Rosemonde (Alice de Lencquesaing) is understandably concerned, but a fateful meeting with actor Constant Coquelin (Olivier Gourmet) leads to a sea change in Rostand’s circumstance. Coquelin was a huge fan of The Distant Princess, and he’s commissioned Rostand to pen a play within a moment’s notice.
Time is definitely not no Rostand’s side, but when inspiration falls upon one’s lap, that proverbial clock is not so big a factor. Rostand’s best friend Léo (Tom Leeb) is an actor who is in love with an attractive costume designer named Jeanne (Lucie Boujenah). Though Jeanne is attracted to the womanizing Léo, her soul is moved by the writings of Rostand. Sensing an immediate opportunity, Rostand pens love letters to Jeanne in the guise of Léo (unbeknownst to his best buddy!), and their romantic correspondence fuels the creative energy behind Cyrano de Bergerac.
Writing the play and hiding this platonic romance from his wife are just part of Edmond’s responsibilities, as he’s also directing the production which always seems to be in danger thanks to the demands of the ruthless financial backers (Simon Abkarian, Marc Andréoni). Mathilde Seigner plays Maria, a demanding woman whose bond to the aforementioned producers lands her the coveted role of Roxanne, and Igor Gotesman co-stars as Coquelin’s son, a man who, though he has a big part in the play, is not a natural thespian.
Throw in Jean-Michel Martial as a bar owner who encourages Edmond’s writing as well as director Alexis Michalik as the arrogant playwright (and Edmond’s rival) Georges Feydeau and you have a film with a healthy share of speaking parts that dance about in a refreshingly dizzying tale. The film doesn’t let up during its 110 minutes, and if you’re a fan of visually enticing steadicam and crane shots, then Cyrano, My Love will not disappoint.
Alexis Michalik, who has mainly plied his trade as an actor, makes a stunning and breezily confident directing debut (it’s adapted from his original play), and this hopefully marks the beginning of a creatively fruitful filmmaking career. Filled with quick witted dialogue and a fever pitch level energy, Cyrano, My Love is so light on its feet that one may think the film exists on empty calories. That, however, would be a mistake, as being purely entertained from start to finish is a rare thing (in any art form).
Cyrano, My Love is easily one of my favorite films this year, and though this breezy and ultimately engaging narrative may remind folks of Shakespeare in Love, it’s a more than worthy homage. Thanks to the breathless and open hearted directing debut of Alexis Michalik, the latest iteration of Cyrano de Bergerac is an absolute winner.