Cyrano De Bergerac is the latest retelling of Edmond Rostand’s 1897 story of unrequited love, courtiers fawn, ladies faint, musketeers cross swords, and 17th-century France comes ravishingly alive. Cyrano (Gérard Depardieu), whose soul matches his outsize nose, writes poetic love letters to Roxane (Anne Brochet), who thinks they’re from a young, handsome suitor and barely acknowledges Cyrano’s existence. Seldom has the line between noblesse oblige and masochism been walked so treacherously yet dexterously.
But viewers might find themselves disappointed by the use of Rostand’s verse, translated into high-flown English subtitles by Anthony Burgess. The other surprise, and not a happy one, is Depardieu, who turns in a curiously remote and humorless performance as the big-hearted Cyrano. It is deeply ironic that one comes away impressed with how handsome the production is, yet with so little sense of the tortured courtier’s soul. For passion and wit, rent Steve Martin’s modern adaptation of this story, Roxanne. B-