Still single seven years after the collapse of his marriage, John (Reilly) has given up on romance. Forced by his ex-wife and now best friend to attend a party, he surprises everyone by meeting Molly (Tomei) and the instant chemistry leads to what seems a perfect partner for the lonesome John. That is until he meets Molly’s son, Cyrus (Hill), whose relationship with his mother is a touch unconventional and he is definitely not ready to share her with anyone.
Before seeing Cyrus I was on the back of two rom-com screenings of The Switch and Going the Distance, both slightly different tales of relationships and both films I enjoyed with different levels of appreciation. I was kind of expecting a third rom-com scenario in Cyrus but actually found a film where romance and comedy were never really the dominating genre as character and relationship took centre stage and it took me by surprise. It’s positively brilliant.
Jonah Hill is so good is this film, it’s by far his best performance and he keeps growing as an actor as well as a comedic presence. He comes across as a few notches short of being a serial killer but having a surreal childlike calmness to his evil which works so well and is at times hilarious, especially his performance playing his new song to John when they first meet or his long vacant stares at John which just say “I want to kill you”, Creepy is not the word.
Marisa Tomei is wonderful, I’ve not seen her in anything since My Cousin Vinny and she plays the difficult role of the over caring mother and wanting lover so well, it feels natural and believable and worked perfectly. Her chemistry and wonderfully flowing dialogue with John C Reilly helps the film succeed, feel natural and through almost the entire film, not a single line felt scripted, greatly adding to the appeal of the film. Reilly is also in his element, I can’t remember a film where he has been this good, offering genuine laughs and an wonderful emotional rivalry with Jonah Hill which must have been so funny to film.
Not only is Cyrus darkly funny and incredibly well made, it has a very strong story at its centre, surrounded by excellent and well rounded characters that you will completely invest in, it’s a joy and a complete triumph. Cyrus is a film which feels fresh, filmed using the “Mumblecore” style of low budget, improvised script, digital cameras and a lot of talk about relationships, Cyrus benefits from the style as it feels unpredictable and genuine. The Duplass brothers have created a visually interesting film with creative camera movements and sharp focusing on people’s expressions that set it apart from any romantic comedy movie I’ve seen. I’m now looking through the Duplass back catalogue as a new fan.
Cyrus is not going to be to everyone’s taste and I’m sure people are going to find it tedious and not full of “gags” like they expected from that big guy from Superbad and the ‘Shrek’ looking guy from Step Brothers. I hope people can understand this is not a quirky rom-com, this is not full of gross out jokes, this is not a vehicle for a pretty actor and a pretty actress to ride the roller coaster of relationships. This is a film about a messed up young adult in a single parent family who has had a very strange upbringing and how mother and son fail at letting new people into their family. It’s a film which favours relationships and character examination over a deluge of gags, and it’s all the better for it.
I highly recommend Cyrus, more than many films I’ve seen this year.
Cyrus is out in UK cinemas today.