Cyrano, My Love is an intersection of live and art. It could be debated which is imitating which as we follow fin-de-siècle French poet/playwright Edmund Rostand as he struggles to create the play which brought him fame and success, Cyrano de Bergerac.
The film opens as Edmund (Thomas Solivérès) is opening an unsuccessful play. He is gaining a reputation as “a young poet who writes flops”. His supporting wife encourages to continue. But then, a few years later, the realities of life (and two young children) are creating pressure. But writer’s block has set in. Sarah Bernhardt (Clémentine Célerié) suggests he write a play for the famed actor Constant Coquelin (Olivier Gourmet). Coquelin needs a play by the end of the year (three months off) or he will lose his lease on the theater. Edmund promises him a play, in verse, but so far all he has is the title.
Edmund has an actor friend, Léo Volny (Tom Leeb), who has fallen in love with Jeanne (Lucie Boujenah), a costumer. He wants to woo her, but doesn’t know how to make an impression. One night below her window, Edmund feeds Léo lines. When Jeanne goes to a different town, Edmund (in Léo’s name) begins a correspondence with Jeanne. Jeanne is falling in love with Léo (she thinks) through the letters. But for Edmund, Jeanne has become his muse as he channels this experience into the play. Those familiar with Cyrano de Bergerac will recognize the parallels with that story.
Edmund is writing the play on the fly. Rehearsals begin with just the first act written. As preparations continue, he must balance demands from his wife, from the play’s producers, and various actors and actresses. As with the real play, Cyrano, My Love evolves into farce, but with a satisfying ending for everyone.
There is a topical and tonal similarity to the 1999 Best Picture Oscar winner Shakespeare in Love, which director Alexis Michalik cites as an inspiration in press notes. The relationship that Edmund cultivates with Jeanne is one of love, but a very different kind of love (from Edmund’s perspective) than the romantic love of Shakespeare in Love. However, the way that relationship becomes embodied in the play Edmund is writing is similar to the earlier film not only thematically, but also as entertainment.
What makes this an interesting love story is that we get a multifaceted view. Various aspects of love twist and intermingle through the plot. Love here ranges from sexual attraction (Léo for Jeanne), emotional attraction (Jeanne for Edmund), intellectual aspects (Edmund for Jeanne), and the committed life of marriage between Edmund and his wife). Each of those experiences of love is important, but being able to bring them together in our lives is truly golden.
Photos courtesy of Roadside Attractions