Based on the stage musical of the same name, Cyrano tells the classic story of the title character (Peter Dinklage), a not-so-attractive but very eloquent man in love with a beautiful woman, his friend Roxanne (Haley Bennett). When she falls in love at first sight with Christian (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), who is handsome but not-so-bright, Cyrano agrees to write love letters to her for Christian, and she falls more deeply in love with what she thinks is his mind. As Cyrano wonders how long he can keep up the rouse, a war rages, and De Guiche (Ben Mendelsohn), the nobleman who wants to marry Roxanne threatens to ruin everyone’s lives. Whereas earlier adaptations of the story have updated the setting to modern times, this rendition says very close to the source material but turns the poetry of the love letters into songs to mixed results.
People going to see this version of Cyrano because it is a musical may be disappointed because the music is forgettable. In so far as the songs emphasize the beauty of the letters and how they move Roxanne, they work quite well. Like a lot of Nineteenth-Century literature, this story is often bleak and sad, and the songs highlight the pure love driving the story. The art direction also adds an ethereal quality to Roxanne’s scenes, giving her a light, airy image in contrast to the stark war scenes, emphasizing not only Roxanne’s beauty but also her sweetness.
Haley Bennett does a wonderful job balancing Roxanne’s intellectual hunger with her somewhat girlish insistence on true love and love at first sight. The character does not have a lot of real development outside of how Cyrano sees her, but Bennett’s performance makes the contradictions work. Peter Dinklage is an iconic Cyrano, giving the character’s wit a lot of saltiness, but his love the requisite earnestness. Poor Kelvin Harrison Jr. comes off as hapless as Christian is by comparison.
I do not think that the musical elements really justify a new version of Cyrano, but it was a breath of fresh air to watch a movie so sweetly focused on true love and poetry in a media landscape dominated by con-artists and superheroes.
Showing now in theaters, Cyrano was directed by Joe Wright and written by Erica Schmidt based on the stage musical adapted from the play by Edmond Rostand. It runs 123 minutes and is rated PG-13.
On Netflix, The Adam Project also tells a love story but wraps it up in a time travel narrative full of futuristic planes and weapons. Basically, Young Adam (Walker Scobell) and his mother, Ellie (Jennifer Garner), are grieving the loss of his father, Louis (Mark Ruffalo), when Adam from 2050 (Ryan Reynolds) crashes in the woods behind their house. Big Adam is on a mission to stop the invention of time travel and its corruption by Maya Sorian (Catherine Keener) so that he can save the love of his life, Laura (Zoe Saldana).
Time travel movies are inherently convoluted, and I do not think the plot of this movie is even very interesting. I cared not a bit about the planes or the lightsabers or the time travel. The relationships in the story, however, are worth watching, making this movie something of an action movie-family movie hybrid. My favorite part is when Big Adam runs into his mother in a bar and hears her telling the bartender about how much her son hates her. Adam intervenes and has the kind of heart-to-heart with his mom he wishes he had when he was the teenage son giving her a hard time. Jennifer Garner is a treasure, and this scene is one of the movie’s best.
In my last review of a movie starring Ryan Reynolds (Red Notice), I complained that he had become such a caricature of himself that it was hard to watch. I am happy to report that in The Adam Project, he is not annoying! In addition to this screenplay giving his character more depth, the wisecracking is also spit between Big Adam and Young Adam, diffusing its impact. Furthermore, as Young Adam, Walker Scobell is funny, providing enough of a Ryan Reynolds impression to create the illusion that they are the same person while also giving a good performance in his own right.
The Adam Project is neither especially creative nor interesting, but for its genre, it delivers a watchable action movie with some cute moments. I also got a kick out of it delivering a meet-cute at the very end.
The Adam Project was directed by Shawn Levy and written by Jonathan Tropper, T.S. Nowlin, and Jennifer Flackett. It runs 1 hour 46 minutes and is rated PG-13 for violence/action, language, and suggestive references.
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