Cyrus (2010)

Written & Directed by Jay & Mark Duplass

I can remember putting Cyrus in my saved DVD queue on Netflix on the entire basis of Jonah Hill, John C. Reilly and Marisa Tomei being in it. These are three actors that I respect. That comment may sound strange when talking about Jonah Hill, at least to some, but I can say that I have enjoyed him in everything I have seen him in, even 10 Items or Less. The plot seemed like it had the potential to be extremely funny too. Leading up to when I saw it in theaters, however, I had only seen the trailer once and had almost forgotten the fact that it was coming out. I saw it was playing at the indie theater down the street from my house, so I called up some friends and we went. What we got was something of a dramedy, but not like some indie dramedies I have seen before. There was something kind of special about it.

The film begins by telling us that John’s(Reilly) ex-wife is remarrying and that he is not in a good place in his life. So he unwillingly goes to a party with his ex and her fiance and while there meets co-oddball Molly(Tomei). From there their relationship blossoms, until her 22 year old son Cyrus(Hill) starts to become a major factor in the relationship. He and Molly are very close, and it would appear he is not ready to give her up to somebody else. The performances by the three main actors are all spectacular, with Reilly leading the way. He has always been on of the most solid actors in the business in my opinion and here delivers a remarkably funny performance and one that is built on his ability to make the audience feel for him.

As the title might suggest, while not the main character of the film, Cyrus is the main focus of the relationship between Molly and John. Hill creates a very creepy, immature, and immensely hatable character in Cyrus. He jumps in to interrupt at all the wrong times, makes all the moves you don’t want him to make and even when you can see it coming, makes everything unsettling and uncomfortable at times, but that is a strength of the film and the character. But while watching this I thought about what Cyrus might be thinking by acting in the manner he did.

I have always held the thought that everything in life is built from the relationships you make. People can be fine on their own and live on their own, but in the end, loneliness is too much and what we make of life must be made through shared experiences. Shared experiences is the phrase I am going to stress here. Molly has catered to Cyrus and Cyrus to Molly for the 22 years Cyrus has been alive. They have each other and can share experiences together. But John comes into the picture losing his friend, his ex-wife. He is looking for someone to share things with and when Molly wants to have those shared experiences with him, Cyrus sees his piece of the pie fading, instead of seeing it growing, when in reality that is truly what was happening. That is really what hit and and why the third act really turned a good movie into a great one.

The first two acts of the film are solid and contain lots of humor and some solid character development, but for the most part I did not see where, or better, how it was going to end. In addition, while the direction was mostly very good, I always questioned what the Duplass’ were doing with all the strange zooms they were doing with the camera. In the end, however, they craft a wonderful, little (92 minutes) film that just so happened to hit the right chords with me in the end.

***1/2 – Great

Adam Kuhn

Adam Kuhn was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, where he attended Saint Charles Preparatory School. He studied History at the University of Cincinnati, where he was a contributor of The News Record, the twice-weekly, independent student news organization. He has been writing film reviews and blogging since 2009.

2 comments

  • Good write up, though I have foundational ideological problems with the penultimate paragraph.

    I wrote in my reflection that I think the zooms are a brilliant device the Duplass Bros. use to enhance the uneasiness in the viewer to help build a more direct sympathy with Cyrus' psyche, where his whole world is constantly moving and constantly changing. Among other things. I really want to watch this film again.

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  • It was the third act that defined this film for me and took in to a dramatically satisfying place. I agree on the odd zooms, which are grating. Not a great film, but a solid one that more people should check out instead of seeing all the lame blockbusters out right now.

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