Monday, May 16, 2011

Cyrus - 2010

"Cyrus" - 2010
Dir. by Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass - 1 hr. 31 min.

Official Trailer

"Cyrus" is a study in discomfort and awkwardness.  It's also a comedy, but I think that's largely due to the skill of the cast.  In lesser hands, the material here would be nothing more than watching a trainwreck, and it would likely be more uncomfortable for the viewing audience than anyone else.

John C. Reilly's character, John (I promise all the actors aren't just using their real first names as character names here), finds himself in a hole - he was on a skid before getting divorced seven years ago, and his ex-wife's news that she's remarrying digs him in a little deeper.  She (played by Catherine Keener) insists that he clean himself up and go to a party with her and her fiance.  Reluctantly, he does, and strikes out embarrassingly over and over again.  In a delightfully perverse twist on the "meet cute" trope, John meets Molly (Marisa Tomei), and they take it from there.

The real friction of the movie is provided by the titular character, played by Jonah Hill.  He's in his early twenties, living at home, and is a little too close to his mother.  And he absolutely is not interested in having another man in his mother's life, which is bad news for John and Molly's relationship.  As I mentioned earlier, part of the fun of this movie is having a batch of really good actors who are let loose to do what they do best. John C. Reilly kinds of bumbles a bit, but with good motives.  Marisa Tomei plays not-exactly-dumb, but someone who wears their emotions on her sleeve, and isn't that clued in to the games that people play.  Catherine Keener is Catherine Keener, which is to say awesome, and the fact that she's playing Reilly's ex-wife here leads one to believe that he probably really was a lot better at one point, and that he could probably bounce out of his downward spiral in the right circumstances.

Probably the biggest surprise was that Jonah Hill can act a bit.  It's not that he's not really funny (because he is), but usually he just plays a misguided, motormouth asshole in a batch of them (although usually the best of them).  Here, given the rein to veer far into creepy, manipulative territory, and given enough basis for it to make sense, Hill nails the role.  The third-act panic and desperation of Cyrus isn't something I expected to work as well as it did.

You're as likely to leave this movie thinking that it was totally messed up as thinking that it was pretty funny.  It hit notes of both for me.  It works both in a creepy way and in a funny way, which is a bit of an accomplishment.

4 / 5 - DVD

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