Joe Wright and Erica Schmidt‘s Cyrano (UA Releasing, 12.31) had its first-anywhere screening Thursday night at the Palm, and when it ended around 9:25 pm a few things were obvious.

First and foremost, this poignant romantic tale about unrequited love “works,” and that the audience (composed of the usual mixture of press people and wealthy Colorado liberals) was deeply moved.

There was a kind of a hush outside the theatre — people were talking in groups, whispering praise, sifting through their emotions. (Me included.) Cyrano will probably do well with the Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic gang, but it will surely become a hit or at least develop an ardent following among ticket-buyers and streamers. Because it gets people where they live…soul, passion, exquisite ache.

I’ve been watching filmed adaptations of Edmund Rostand‘s Cyrano de Bergerac for decades (Jose Ferrer‘s 1950 version, Steve Martin‘s Roxanne, the 1990 Gerard Depardieu version, Michael Lehmann‘s The Truth About Cats and Dogs) and the newbie — an inventively choreographed musical, fortified by first-rate production design and wonderfully lighted cinematography — is arguably the most spiritually and poetically buoyant version of them all.

The acting is top-tier, the musical numbers are arresting, the dialogue is as good as this sort of thing gets, and it’s a truly authentic time-tunnel experience (except for the “presentism” in the casting, which is par for the course these days).

Peter Dinklage has absolutely hit the jackpot with his titular performance — he’ll definitely be Best Actor-nominated. The film will almost certainly end up being Best Picture-nominated, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the year-end consensus is that Cyrano is a “better” musical than Steven Spielberg‘s West Side Story and Jon Chu‘s In The Heights combined.

Based on Schmidt’s 2018 stage musical of the same name (in which Dinklage and Haley Bennett costarred before moving onto the film version), Cyrano is easily Wright’s best film since Anna Karenina. Seamus McGarvey‘s exquisite cinematography reminded me of David Watkins‘ lensing of Richard Lester‘s The Three Musketeers (’73) — it’s a real trip just to watch and sink into on a visual level alone.

Kudos to Cyrano costars Kelvin Harrison Jr., Bashir Salahuddin and Ben Mendelsohn.

I have to get up early so that’s that. Four films — Belfast, The Velvet Underground, The French Dispatch, King Richard — slated for tomorrow. I might even fit in a fifth — Speer Goes to Hollywood at 1 pm.