This image is from the trailer for “Cyrano,” distributed by MGM.

Looking for love, but unable to find the words? Hoping that some self-conscious warrior-poet will write and sometimes speak on your behalf to help the one you admire fall in love with you? If so, you’re looking for a Cyrano plot.

Since Edmond Rostand first penned the play “Cyrano de Bergerac” in 1897, the Cyrano plot has remained a pinnacle of trickery and tomfoolery that finds a delicate balance between comedy and tragedy. There’s a good reason that this plot continues to capture our attention: There’s wit and fighting and love triangles and war and chaos and theater and off-the-cuff poetry. There have been countless adaptations over the past hundred years or so, many of which take the basic plot and translate it into different time periods, settings, genders and situations. (My personal favorite is the underappreciated Disney Channel Original Movie “Let It Shine,” which takes it into the world of amateur hip-hop stars).

The question becomes: How do you take a story with countless adaptations and make it into something new?

If you’re screenwriter Erica Schmidt (in her feature debut) and director Joe Wright (“Darkest Hour”), you leave the setting and time period alone, alter the main character’s insecurities to something more accessible and set it to music. And that’s how you get “Cyrano,” the latest Cyrano de Bergerac film adaptation.

This film adaptation is based on a 2018 stage adaptation written by Schmidt, who is primarily a playwright and theater director. The general plot of the film is kept the same: Hopelessly in love with his childhood friend Roxanne (Haley Bennett, “The Girl on the Train”), Cyrano de Bergerac (Peter Dinklage, “Game of Thrones”) agrees to help a handsome young soldier named Christian de Neuvillette (Kelvin Harrison Jr., “Luce”) win Roxanne over by secretly ghostwriting romantic love letters on Christian’s behalf.

But unlike previous iterations, this version is a musical. Both the stage adaptation and the film one feature original music by Matt Berninger, Aaron Dessner and Bryce Dessner of American indie band The National. Many songs fit into the fabric of the story intimately, injecting more background and emotion into the character than speaking could, although they feel a little off at times — perhaps because they feel a little too modern in the film’s context or because of some of the weaker voices (Dinklage, despite being the most talented actor in the film, is its weakest singer).

The musical numbers themselves have mixed results. Some are visually captivating, particularly a dramatic climatic number filmed on Mt. Etna (which was apparently erupting during filming) that makes for a brutally barren and snow-covered backdrop. Other numbers — dancing with loaves of bread or rolling around on a bed of letters — are frankly a little weird to watch. Still, in general, the musical aspect is a strength rather than a weakness. Given that Rostand wrote “Cyrano de Bergerac” entirely in verse, reframing some poetic sequences as songs is a creative — and effective — way to adapt the original play.

Beyond “Cyrano” being musically and visually interesting, the casting is also excellent — specifically with Dinklage and Bennett, who both played the same roles in the stage adaptation. The banter between the two is delightful, a back-and-forth that was likely cultivated during their Off-Broadway run. Their one-on-one interactions are the best in the film, contrasting the gruff but lovestruck Cyrano with Roxanne’s infectious joy.

But casting Dinklage as Cyrano works brilliantly not only in terms of Dinklage’s skill as an actor but in terms of the layer of authenticity it adds to the story. In the original play, the primary barrier to Cyrano’s confidence is that he has a large nose, a physical attribute that is taken very seriously as an obstacle to Cyrano’s happiness (even though it probably isn’t). In an interview with Yahoo, Dinklage stated that the focus on the big nose always felt a little fake to him, since he always saw Cyrano as “a handsome actor in a fake nose who got to take it off once the show was done.”

Taking away this more basic insecurity and transitioning it towards something less ephemeral is a move that pushes the story of Cyrano into someone easier to empathize with. Dinklage’s Cyrano is underestimated and insulted because of his height; he is slower to trust people and is quick to fight as a result; his insecurities and mistrust were not born out of vanity but out of a more deliberate and unfortunate societal circumstance. In the same Yahoo article, Dinklage says this about changing the nose: “If you get rid of it, you’re able to get closer to the piece. It becomes a more universal story, not just one about a guy with a big nose who laments his differences.”

In this way, “Cyrano” hits at a delicate and deliberate emotional core. Cyrano, despite his bravado in battle and his brilliant way with words, is so convinced of his inability to be loved that he is willing to sacrifice his own happiness to give the love of his life a chance at hers. Dinklage’s take on the role is strongest in the parts where he seems utterly miserable, the heart-wrenching pain of his fears and his hopelessness creeping into his eyes even as he smiles for Roxanne. It’s utterly heartbreaking, but the emotion hits so hard in part because it hits at the small, human part of you that can’t help but feel the same fears.

Occasionally, “Cyrano” does seem to be a bit lost in the gaping space that its story has grown to occupy. The pacing, particularly in the escalation of the final half-hour, is a little off, but that may be a symptom of condensing a three-hour, five-act play into a two-hour movie. At times, the film struggles to find a consistent tone. For example, a sequence of sword-fighting while pseudo-rapping immediately followed by a death is a contrast that’s a little bit too stark. But that is the way of a tragicomedy, where the jokes and wit are fun until the harsh reality hits.

Despite some of these messier aspects, “Cyrano” is generally a delight to watch. Part of the unexpected strength of “Cyrano” could have come from the strength of the romantic and real-life partnerships within it: Schmidt and Dinklage are partners, as are Wright and Bennett. The fact that the bulk of “Cyrano” hinges on these two couples may add to its sense of cohesion. Everything in the film seems to click relatively well: Wright’s directing style fits seamlessly with Schmidt’s adaptation, and the two acting leads are brilliant in their roles.

The film pulls you in from the opening number with the hopeful resonance of The National’s lyrics as well as the visual brilliance of costume and set design that I described in my notes as “glorious.” By the end, as Wright’s vision is realized and the emotional confrontation of a 125-year-old plot is reached, there’s a sense of symmetry. It’s very possible that, of all of the Cyrano adaptations that have come before it, this “Cyrano” is the one that completes the story in its original form while reshaping it more toward the way we see the world today — a fascinating and spectacular feat. And so, like its titular character, “Cyrano” is an occasionally messy, overtly noble and deeply truehearted addition to the growing list of adaptations.

Daily Arts Writer Kari Anderson can be reached at