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That very interesting actor Alex Lawther deserves more than being typecast as a posh English schoolboy – but that’s what’s happening again, in this moderate new spin on the Cyrano de Bergerac story. It’s set in a public school, in the 70s or 80s, and the bizarre rituals and sports are boisterously imagined: like a laugh-free version of Michael Palin’s Tomkinson’s Schooldays.
Lawther flinches and grimaces his way through the role of Amberson, the bespectacled bully victim and scholarship boy, shyly in love with Agnes (Pauline Etienne), teenage daughter of the grouchy French teacher Babinot (Denis Ménochet). But Agnes herself is dazzled by the chiselled good looks of the school’s hunky-but-brainless sports star Winchester (Jonah Hauer-King) who induces poor, nerdy Amberson to ghost-write his love letters for Agnes and write and direct the wacky and super-cool videos he’s sending to impress her. (One is a goofy sci-fi extravaganza inspired by 2001: A Space Odyssey; the film borrows the famously off-key version of Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra by the Portsmouth Sinfonia.)
Of course, the original point of the Cyrano myth (as created by Rostand) is that he is supposed to be ugly with a big nose. Lawther’s Amberson is really not ugly, at least as pulchritudinous as Winchester, in fact, so that part of the story has been fudged. The narrative capers away to its conclusion, and the unlikely bromance developing between Amberson and Winchester is more fervently presented than anything involving Agnes, who is not permitted as much dramatic presence in the action.
The alienated Frenchness of Agnes and her glowering dad certainly add a little flavour to the movie.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Old Boys review – schoolboy Cyrano has lessons to learn | Comedy films