Sundance 2010 Review: CYRUS
Editor's Note: This review was originally published on January 25, 2010.
Writers: Mark Duplass, Jay Duplass
Directors: Mark Duplass, Jay Duplass
Cast: John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill, Marisa Tomei, Catherine Keener
CYRUS is the the Duplass brothers' first film produced by a major studio, and it features the most well-known cast that the directing duo has worked with to date. These factors naturally mean that CYRUS will receive more exposure than their previous efforts, including the independent features THE PUFFY CHAIR and BAGHEAD. With CYRUS, the Duplass brothers do not fail, even with brighter lights shining on them.
CYRUS' story sets up well for the uncomfortably hilarious, and is executed to a level that keeps the premise from being wasted. John (John C. Reilly) is a guy who still hasn't gotten over his divorce after seven years. He's lonely, but thinks he's okay with that - until he meets someone special due to an eruption of honesty that happens while trying to drunkenly pick up a girl (an attempt to find someone made at the urging of his ex-wife). Yet, it isn't the girl that John's pick-up line turned moment of self-therapy that he begins a relationship with, but rather the very attractive Molly (Marisa Tomei), who is impressed by John letting his wounded heart do the talking when hitting on someone.
John and Molly mesh well together, he is a sweet guy that does not hide his insecurities, and this works for Molly, an attractive fortysomething that is probably long tired of insincere, overconfident men. But there is a problem, of course. Molly has a manipulative, passive-aggressive 22 year old son who still lives with her named Cyrus (Jonah Hill), who does not want to share his mom with anyone. Molly and Cyrus are best friends, but it appears that their relationship has never evolved beyond when Cyrus was six years old.
John wants to get along with Cyrus, and Cyrus plays along for a little while. But even in the beginning, he does and says odd things that lead to solid laughs, while also letting the audience know he is not okay with what is happening. Soon the conflict between Cyrus and John comes to be the focus of the film.
CYRUS contains many moments of great tense comedy that appear without signs of strain, and right on target performances by everyone. Reilly and Hill are (not surprisingly) hilarious in their roles, and have many great exchanges together. Reilly and Tomei are able to create a believable sense attraction and affection between their characters. Technically, the film is subtly tight, giving off a natural tone but never beginning to feel slow or to drag. CYRUS also showcases montages during critical times that are beautifully constructed and flow wonderfully.
CYRUS could seem pretty simple due to its plot and everything about the film coming off seemingly effortlessly, but this is an attribute of competency and talent - performing so well that what you accomplished looks easier to pull off than it is. The Duplass brothers, actors, and everyone else involved in the film help create this effect with CYRUS, which is a great comedy that has a slightly twisted heart, but it definitely does have heart.