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How Cyrano de Bergerac came to life!
December 1897, Paris Belle Epoque. Edmond Rostand (Thomas Solivérès) is a playwright of not yet thirty years of age who already has a wife, two children, too many bills to pay, and a lot of anxiety. He has not written anything for two years after the flop of his last play, La Princesse Lointaine, a tragedy in verse; a far cry from the popular comedies of the times written by the two “Georges”: Feydeau (played by director Alexis Michalik himself) and Courteline.
Luckily, Edmond can count on the friendship of the great Sarah Bernhardt (Clémentine Célarié), who puts him in touch with the most famous actor of the day, Constant Coquelin (Olivier Gourmet). Coquelin has troubles of his own and needs a hit by the end of the year, or he will lose his theater. Edmond offers him his new play, a heroic comedy. The only problem: he has yet to write a word, and the play is set to open in three weeks! For now, all Edmond has is a title: Cyrano de Bergerac.
Alexis Michalik’s spirited film is pure delight from beginning to end. In the tradition of Shakespeare in Love, the film mixes historical facts with a heavy dose of fiction, as Rostand’s inspiration emerges from the most unlikely places.
Leading the wonderful cast of this ensemble film is one of the SFFF’s favorites, Olivier Gourmet (Conviction – SFFF 2019, The Royal Exchange – SFFF 2018, The Midwife – SFFF 2017), brilliant as the over-the-top real-life star who had the honor of bringing Cyrano to life for the very first time. Cyrano de Bergerac remains today one of the most enduring figures of French theater, but you don't need to know the play to enjoy the film. (If you have seen the Steve Martin comedy Roxanne, a modern take on the classic Cyrano story, you are likely to recognize some dialogue and plot points!)
Writer/director/actor Alexis Michalik’s 2016 play Edmond, on which the film is based, was a hit in France. Nominated for seven prestigious Molière Awards (the French TONY Awards), it won five! Michalik has previously written and directed three short films, including Grounded (Au Sol), presented at the 2014 SFFF. Cyrano, My Love, is his first feature.
Remember to stay through the closing credits, which include excerpts of a century’s worth of Cyrano performances captured on film — starting in 1900 with Coquelin himself and ending in 1990 with Gérard Depardieu, by way of Jean Marais and Jose Ferrer.
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