Cyrus is not quite the comedy the trailers have you believe it is. This indie film is much more than your typical John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill slapstick you are accustom to seeing in Judd Apatow films, it adds a touch of dark creepiness. Written and directed by upcoming indie superstar duo Mark and Jay Duplass, Cyrus takes cues from their previous films such as, The Puffy Chair and Baghead. In other words, it is wonderful. I would be lying if I said I was not excited when it was announced they were doing this film.
John (John C. Reilly) is socially inept who openly admits is lonely, depressed and desperate after being separated from his wife for seven years now. Just days away from his ex-wife getting married, she feels bad for John and wants him to move on with his life. She knows he needs a relationship for this to happen, so she drags him to a party.
At a party that he not only was not thrilled on going to, let alone meet someone at, he finds a girl named Molly (Marisa Tomei). Even though John is completely drunk beyond reason, for which he can thank his ex-wife for, Molly looks past that. She is in a lot of ways like John, lonely and single for far too long.
He is overly excited when she comes over for the first date, someone that every male can probably empathize with. He purchases condoms, wine, makes dinner and even puts in a few last minute sit-ups. What John lacks in confidence, which is a lot, he more than compensates in honestly. As in this case, sometimes the two are not completely unrelated. The date goes well but ends mysteriously when she tries to sneak out but is caught by John.
John suspiciously follows her home and accidentally falls asleep in his car. The next morning he discovers that she has a son named Cyrus (Jonah Hill). The two oddly hit it off being completely and sometimes too open with each other. Cyrus being overly welcome, invites him to stay for dinner, which John eagerly agrees to.
Something strange happens the next morning as he is about to leave, his shoes are missing. He becomes a little paranoid that something is up. He consults his ex-wife whom which is also his co-worker it turns out. She tells him to forget about it and pretend it never happened. Partly, because she does not believe they took the shoes but mostly because she wants him to be in a relationship more than anyone.
John, as well as the viewer, begins to question whether or not Cyrus is trying to sabotage their relationship or if the bizarre and overly welcome encounters are legit. The film then shifts it’s focus around Cyrus. Hence, the title of the film. The romantic comedy takes a sharp turn and reveals a darker side.
We see John go through an amazing character development as he transforms into a new person. He goes from the timid and lonely, depressed person, to a smart and tactful one. In many ways, his character is a reprise from his character in Magnolia. I am not only talking about him being in a more serious role in general but specifically similar personalities. I missed that John C Reilly. Apparently, so did others as he was nominated for Best Male Lead at Independent Spirit Awards.
Cyrus does not rely solely on John C. Reilly to carry the film though, nearly equally as impressive are Marisa Tomei and Jonah Hill. Tomei is plays a lovable character that is hard not to like. Hill shows that he can play an unlikeable, dark and creepy character instead of the usual pure comedy role. I am not putting down his typical roles, because I find them, and subsequently him, to be hilarious. It is delightful to see this different side of him.
For better or worse, the film was shot in a typical Duplass style. Which feels very amateur, almost home movie style with random snap-zooms. Personally, I think it works here but others may not agree. The dialog between characters was very natural and believable. The film as a whole is completely realistic. Which is tends to be a recurring trademark of the Duplass brothers and what has become known as the mumblecore movement. They achieve this by less script and rehearsal and more improvisation on the set.
Cyrus is a straight forward and incredibly honest film, two simple qualities that big budget films should take note of. It proves that you do not need an overly complicated plot with unrealistic situations in order to make a film interesting. Throw in terrific acting performances by the cast and you have yourself one very superb indie film.