- 11 Oct 10
Tomei, Reilly and Hill capably illustrate the triumverate of frustration at the heart of the film but all have to work hard to compensate for an underdeveloped screenplay.
We have the brothers Duplass to thank for the Mumblecore movement, the post-slacker aesthetic where you can’t quite tell if the characters are laid back or have special needs. We can’t hold it against them too much. The manifesto of social rejection they helped found with the 2005 SWSX premiere of The Puffy Chair can be detected throughout Cyrus but the tiresome mumbling, at least, has gone away.
A darkly comic premise wrung for creepy possibility, as Cyrus opens John C. Reilly is John, a lovelorn divorcee who pines for his former wife (Catherine Keener) some seven years after the decree absolute. Enter Molly (Marisa Tomei), a single mom who puts out and brings John’s perma-mope to an abrupt end. Molly, however, harbours a big, fat secret. Cyrus (Jonah Hill), her son, is an outsized, 21-year old with mental deficiencies and one serious Oedipal complex; an electronic music composer(!), he showers with mom, shares her bed after nightmares and says discombobulating things like “You deserve someone who can love you in the way I can’t”. It does not take long for John to twig that he has not so much gained a son as slighted a rival. And it’s on.
Unlike say, David O’Russell’s Spanking the Monkey, Cyrus is entertaining enough to justify its disquieting, incestuous subtext. Tomei, Reilly and Hill capably illustrate the triumverate of frustration at the heart of the film but all have to work hard to compensate for an underdeveloped screenplay.
Nobody could argue that the Duplass brothers aren’t ponies to back, but Cyrus lacks the attention to detail that makes a goof film a great one.