– . – Cyrus
Directors & Screenplay Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass Stars John C. Reilly, Marisa Tomei, Jonah Hill DoP Jas Shelton Editor Jay Deuby Opens September 24
Cyrus is the type of movie that grows on you over time. And although it doesn’t wow you from scene one, it does warmly welcome you in and invite you to watch as it unfolds. It’s also one of those films with which it is easy to develop a personal connection throughout.
John, played by the always brilliant Reilly, is a divorced man who just hasn’t been able to move on with his life. After being invited to a party by his ex-wife, Jamie, (Catherine Keener), where he gets some surprising news, John’s world starts crashing down around him. Salvation seems to arrive, however, when he meets the lovely Molly (masterfully played by Tomei). They begin a whirlwind relationship, and all is rosy until John starts to question why Molly only wants to spend time at his home. Following her back to her house one night, John discovers Molly’s secret is little more than the fact that her 21-yearold son, Cyrus (Hill), is still living at home. Hardly a shocker in today’s economy-until we realise that Cyrus has some serious Oedipal issues and has no plans to share his mother with John. What ensues is the dark comedy/drama of Cyrus’ attempts to break up John and Molly’s relationship, and so reclaim his spot as the number one man in his mother’s life.
The directing duo and brothers, Jay and Mark Duplass have built an indie following based on the cinéma vérité style they showcased in previous films like The Puffy Chair (2005) and Baghead (2008), but while it does make for interesting cinema, Cyrus never seems to really find the solid grounding it needs. It’s hard to know what type of movie it wants to be; comedy, drama or even, at times, horror? Since the filmmakers’ interaction with their subjects often involves stylised set-ups and unrehearsed scenes, the film’s pace is frequently broken up and scene-to-scene moments appear disjointed at times.
To their great credit, however, the actors handle this style of filmmaking outstandingly. Clearly needing a cast able to think on their feet and improvise, it is little surprise that the brothers Duplass chose seasoned stage actors in Reilly and Tomei. Tomei always brings a depth and quality to her roles, and delivers again as Molly, while Reilly continues to break away from character roles, making it clear that he’s got all the skills and talents of other leading men, while still remaining unique. Hill, too, takes a welcome break from his traditional comedy roles to play the slightly psychopathic Cyrus.
A movie about powerful change, and also about the desire to fight against it, Cyrus is, like its characters, slightly complex. OK, so it’s not always consistent, but it’s definitely well-meaning, interesting and worth investing time in. 3 stars