One of the films I had the pleasure of revisiting when I put together my list of favourite Steve Martin films at Den Of Geek Roxanne consistently seems to be left out of appraisals of the finest romantic comedies of the past couple of decades. And that’s really quite unfair. Although elements of it appear a little dated – not least the title sequence with suitably cheesy music – this is a smart and sweet movie, that brings the tale of Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac into the present day (well, the mid-80s anyway).
Adapted by the film’s star (who also serves as executive producer), Roxanne is the story of fire chief C.D. Bales, a generally well liked man who just happens to have an enormous nose. Said nose, which can’t be operated on, is the reason why C.D. figures he’s not going to have success with the opposite sex, in spite of his attraction to title character Roxanne, played by Daryl Hannah.
So begins a story that sees C.D. write love notes on behalf of Chris, a man whom Roxanne confides she’s attracted to. It’s C.D.’s truthful words, of course, that Chris delivers, as the former struggles to deal with his own feelings towards his sizeable snout that ultimately prevent him admitting his own true feelings to Roxanne. Yet it doesn’t give too much away to say that all this eventually comes to a head. Still, Roxanne wisely packs all this into around an hour and three quarters. And that feels just right.
There are numerous joys to be had here. Martin’s script is both witty and superbly pitched, not selling you short on either the romance or the comedy, but remembering to keep the sugar bowl well away. Furthermore, his lead performance too demonstrates that here’s a man with genuine range: there’s a mix of drama and comedy in his acting that’s not often matched. Whether delivering the rightly famed core sequence that sees him ridiculing his nose or dealing with the more tender moments, Martin is easily up to the job. Daryl Hannah is a strong lead here, too, it should be said.
The film’s aged somewhat, to be fair, and the film’s at its best before it gets to the ending. But this is still a fine piece of work, and one that ably demonstrates the sheer versatility of its leading man.
Sadly, in spite of all of this, the Blu-ray release is a complete waste of time. Firstly, there’s the obvious: on the list of films crying out for a high definition upgrade, Roxanne is nowhere to be found. Secondly, the upgrade it does get is passable at best, with little effort seemingly deployed to boost the picture quality beyond a bit of added spit and polish. It’s better than it looked on DVD, to be fair, but this is still a film that’s showing its age. The audio is limited too, although the film itself has little use for a complete overhaul in this department. Thus, you can mothball the speakers for the couple of hours that Roxanne is playing away on your TV.
The cake is then thoroughly iced by the decision not to include a single extra feature on the disc. Not a commentary, not a behind the scenes feature, not a sausage. This is a barren, loveless release for a film that deserves a better fate. Stick with the DVD is the easy advice here, because while the film remains terrific, there’s no incentive of any real substance to upgrade.
Appreciating that the Blu-ray format needs a broad catalogue of titles, it’s surely not too much to ask to at least make an effort before simply shovelling films that deserve better onto the format.
The Movie:The Disc: