Mr ‘Hand Flex’ Himself on Cyrano’s Romantic Intelligence

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Gemma Gracewood talks to director Joe Wright and his Cyrano creative partners Haley Bennett (who plays Roxanne), lyricist Carin Besser and composer Bryce Dessner about hand flexes, thigh squeezes and open-hearted anti-cynicism—and shares some Letterboxd love letters in return.

Cyrano director Joe Wright is held in high regard by certain Letterboxd members as the hand-flex guy; a romantic anti-cynic who excels at tucking small details into big drama. Gary Oldman and Kristin Scott Thomas touching foreheads in Darkest Hour. Keira Knightley and James McAvoy entwining hands beneath a dining table in Atonement. Matthew Macfadyen stretching out those love-struck fingers in Pride & Prejudice. “I always work my focus puller very hard,” he chuckles.

Cyrano has many of the movie-magic hallmarks that elevate Wright’s best films: elaborate Steadicam one-shots, attentive close-ups, lush period design, people not saying what they really feel, sumptuous dance sequences, and dastardly men (Ben Mendelsohn is menacingly guttural on his final “I’ll taaaake” rant about what he thinks he deserves—Roxanne, of course). It also had an unseasonable snow fall and a slowly erupting Mount Etna for its devastating wartime scenes.

Above all, Cyrano has an unashamed love of love. Higher-rated Letterboxd reviews spill over with relief for Wright’s particular brand of sincerity. “To laugh in the face of Joe Wright’s vision of love is to reject a handmade Valentine’s Day card from your second-grade crush,” writes Jordan. “I love when films aren’t afraid of looking over the top and feeling over the top and delivering outrageously passionate material,” Adam swoons. “I’ve grown to be a cold, miserable cynic and this movie, if only briefly, made me believe in love again” Akimwi declares.

“Oh, that’s lovely,” Wright beams in response. “Wow. I can’t think of a higher praise than that. That makes it worthwhile.”

Read the full story, including Wright’s bemusement at the hand flex obsession, on Journal.