Cyrus Review
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The mumblecore movement of filmmaking has obviously come a long way. Not long ago, these shaky, improvised indies were left to no-name Hollywood hopefuls. But now that mumblecore films like The Puffy Chair and Baghead have garnered loads of attention at film festivals, they’ve attracted well-known stars like John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill. Unfortunately, though, it seems that mumblecore directors Mark and Jay Duplass still haven’t earned enough money to buy themselves a decent tripod—so you might want to pop a Dramamine before checking out their latest comedy, Cyrus.

In the seven years since his divorce, John (Reilly) hasn’t gotten out much. He lives alone, and his closest friend is his ex-wife, Jamie (Catherine Keener). But when Jamie and her fiancé, Tim (Matt Walsh), drag him along to a party, John meets Molly (Marisa Tomei), who likes him in spite of his clumsy, drunken antics.

After a couple of days, John’s fallen head over heels for Molly. He just can’t figure out why she’ll never spend the whole night at his place—so he follows her home. That’s where he meets Cyrus (Hill), Molly’s 21-year-old son, who still lives—and has an extremely close relationship—with his mother.

At first, Cyrus seems eager to welcome John to the family, but it soon becomes all too clear that he’ll do anything to keep Molly all to himself.

Thanks to Reilly and Hill—who are much more adept at improv than the Duplass Brothers’ usual cast of amateurs—Cyrus is the most entertaining mumblecore film I’ve seen. Reilly is the funniest he’s ever been as lovable loser John—and Hill is wonderfully creepy as Molly’s possessive son. For a while, it’s fun to watch these two experienced actors play off one another, composing their own dialogue on the fly—almost as if they were challenging each other to some kind of comic duel.

Unfortunately, though, the film’s lack of a script—or any real direction—works for just so long. As the cast runs out of ideas, the awkward silences become more prevalent. Eventually, the story starts to drag—and what could have been a deliciously dark conclusion simply fizzles out as the film fades to black.

Perhaps even more frustrating, though, is the Duplass Brothers’ spastic, handheld style of filmmaking. The picture constantly jumps in and out of focus, and it’s shakier than your dad’s old home movies (even the ones from the summer vacation when he tried to quit smoking). Again, a tripod might have helped here. It’s not such a huge investment, really; I think the one that I have cost about ten bucks—and I’d be happy to donate it to the cause if it meant that I could finally sit through an entire Duplass Brothers film without feeling the need to vomit.

Though it’s much better than previous mumblecore films—and it’s good for a few awkward laughs—Cyrus would have been a whole lot better if the Duplass Brothers had given it just a little bit of structure. Despite its credible cast, it’s still an uncomfortably—and nauseatingly—inconsistent comedy.

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