Reviews March 2022
Directed by Joe Wright
Certificate 12a, 124 minutes
Released 25 February
Edmond Rostand’s 1897 romantic play Cyrano de Bergerac concerns a man who, because of his long nose, considers himself too ugly to tell the girl of his dreams and childhood friend Roxanne that he loves her. This new version ditches the nose to cast Peter Dinklage (Game Of Thrones) as the hero whose dwarfism becomes his reason for thinking Roxanne (Haley Bennett) couldn’t possibly love him. Then she falls in love… with one of the men in the regiment he commands.
However, the object of her affections, Christian (Bashir Salahuddin), is terrified, lacking the command of language and wit required to woo her. So to help him out, the kindly Cyrano writes, first, Christian’s love letters and, later, his dialogue for romantic trysts with her. She falls in love with Christian without realising she’s in fact fallen for the looks of Christian and the words of Cyrano.
This was always one of the great romantic texts (it’s been filmed twice before); however, Wright very much gives it his own spin, shooting in the picturesque Sicilian town of Noto with a final reel war sequence on the snow-covered slopes of Mt. Etna when Cyrano’s regiment is called up. Other elements include a gripping street fight, Roxanne’s boorish rich duke suitor (Ben Mendelsohn, the villain of the piece) and enchanting songs written by members of the band The National.
The judgement of Wright and his collaborators is spot on. We are captivated by all three characters in the love triangle: the self-doubting good man Cyrano, the handsome yet out of his depth Christian, the free spirited Roxanne blind to the love-smitten man in front of her. With a distant war everpresent in the background and the dodgy Duke waiting in the wings, all this is clearly not going to end well.
It’s a compelling tale of self-doubt and longing: unrequited love followed by life getting in the way, which might be a metaphor for the pandemic conditions under which the film was shot. Visually it’s a treat and the two romantic leads are fantastic, especially Dinklage who makes this iconic character completely his own.
Jeremy Clarke is a film critic. His website is jeremycprocessing.com
Lent with hip-hop
The Room where it Happens
Darton Longman and Todd
The URC’s reputation for open mindedness and resistance to prejudice often falls at the hurdle of music. In this our 50th year it may be a good time to get our denominational teeth into the musical phenomenon which is Hamilton. The style, largely hip-hop with some jazz and show tunes, may challenge the musically conservative, but it’s well worth stepping into and learning from in new and, maybe, surprising ways….
Carole Elphick is a retired URC minister who lives in Muswell Hill
Pathways to unity
The Bond of Peace: Exploring generous orthodoxy
Edited by Graham Tomlin and Nathan Eddy
This book originates from a collection of lectures given at St Mellitus College in 2019 which explore what ‘Generous Orthodoxy’ might mean for the nature and mission of the Church. The term was originally coined by Hans Frei in 1987 to suggest a means by which an evangelical element and a liberal element might feel at home together. It is an attempt with which readers of Reform might feel some sympathy…
Richard Church is a retired URC Minister
English Grounds : A pastoral journal
Andrew Rumsey’s appointment as Bishop of Ramsbury in Wiltshire coincided with the arrival of Covid and the prolonged lockdown. A positive of this period for many people was an encouragement to take a closer look at their own locality, to notice what previously had been merely driven through, and to gain a renewed sense of place. For Rumsey this enforced focus led him to build on ideas he had previously explored in his book Parish, not least the loss experienced by individuals and communities when identity and meaning are no longer derived primarily from geography, history and culture but from amorphous, shallower places such as social media. His declared intention is to help restore some of these lost connections. As a priest in the Church of England he suggests: ‘when experiencing a crisis of collective identity we should attend far more than formerly to what “of England” might now mean.’…
Ian Fosten is book reviews editor for Reform
Beauty and blisters
Island Walks, Book One: Lindisfarne to Iona
The Choir Press
Mindful of today’s burgeoning increase in people undertaking pilgrimages (numbers tackling the Camino in Spain have grown tenfold in the past 20 years), and a Covid-driven renewed interest in holidaying in Britain rather than abroad, Paul Truswell’s account of walking from Holy Island (Lindisfarne) to Iona is a timely and delightful read.
Ian Fosten is the book reviews editor for Reform
This article was published in the March 2022 edition of Reform