Review — Cyrus

Posted: September 13, 2010 in Danny Moltrasi, Film, Reviews
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[Reviewed by: Danny Moltrasi]

“Don’t f*** my mum!”

Brothers Jay and Mark Duplass, famous for their ‘mumblecore’ films The Puffy Chair and Baghead move into the mainstream with their newest film featuring John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill and Marisa Tomei , Cyrus. The film played out of competition at the Sundance Film Festival, and received generally positive reviews from critics alike. This month it has received a fairly wide release in Europe with the support of big name actors, and has been building a good head of steam. The ‘mumblecore’ movement, characterized by its realist approach and improvisation from actors has hit the mainstream.

The film began with us meeting 40-something divorced John (John C. Reilly), who after seven years of being separated and doing very little, goes to his ex-wife’s party, where he meets Molly (Marisa Tomei), whom instantly fall for each other. However, things become awkward when John meets Molly’s son, Cyrus (Jonah Hill). Very attached to his Mother, Cyrus does everything in his power to stop Molly and John becoming too close, while John tries his best to keep things between him and Molly good, and get rid of Cyrus.

It sounds like a simple idea, and one that could become quickly boring, however, there is a lot more to Cyrus than would be initially expected after just seeing the cast list or reading the premise. As usual from a film by the Duplass brothers, it feels real, and genuine, despite the antics of the two main characters sprawling out of control. This comes from the fact that the main trio are all fantastically performed, with much of the dialogue improvised themselves, to their credit. As usual, with well done improvisation, it adds to the realism of the film, and nearly always makes it a more pleasurable experience. The shaky-cam adds to the realism, with its documentary like feel, however at times this becomes distracting, as the same zooms are often repeated in dramatic or funny moments. It feels overdone at times, which is a massive shame because on many occasions the theatre was in stitches as we had a close-up on John’s face after Cyrus had said something uncomfortable. There is also some awkward editing, that makes the film lose its flow at times, and left me wondering if there was something wrong with the actual film, or it was intended to be like that. This is only a minor set-back in the grand scheme of things, however does negate some positives from the film.

The film comes at a time in mainstream Hollywood comedy when, if Judd Apatow isn’t nvolved, it attempts to be like a Judd Apatow film, and often fails. However, Cyrus, is all of its own making, and it feels completely fresh compared to a lot of comedies that are churned out. It is a fairly slow-paced story compared to many comedies, things are never rushed through. We get the time to learn about the characters, despite its fairly short 91 minute running time. The relationship between all three as well, despite obviously at times being over the top, is also at times extremely real and emotional, especially between Molly and Cyrus. A scene between the two, in which they have a heart-to-heart, is one of the most tender moments I’ve seen in cinema this year.

Cyrus is a success overall, however there are still some aspects holding it back. The editing is at times clunky, the shaky-cam was not always spot-on, and sometimes the plot felt like it left things out that were mentioned early on, and maybe should have been returned to. Credit to the main trio in the film, all of who are very good and use their freedom with the script very well. Hopefully this will help inject some new ideas for directors across Hollywood, as there are far more positives than negatives.

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