Reilly, Tomei Lead Accolades for ‘Cyrus’ (****)

Sunday, July 18, 2010
By Kevin Crossman
Jonah Hill, Marisa Tomei and John C. Reilly in Cyrus

Jonah Hill, Marisa Tomei and John C. Reilly in Cyrus

Mark and Jay Duplass bring their brand of improvizational filmmaking to the world of the Frat Pack with their indie comedy Cyrus, with mixed but mostly positive results. The film stars John C. Reilly as a sad sack divorcee who meets an exciting new woman played by Marisa Tomei. The problem is Tomei’s son played by Jonah Hill who doesn’t want to give up his very close, and likely unhealthy, relationship with his mother.

This mines familiar territory for Reilly, who appeared in the similarly themed The Promotion in 2008. This time Reilly plays the protagonist rather than the passive aggressive adversary. In fact, the name “Cyrus” is really a misnomer as it is Reilly’s character “John” that appears in essentially every scene in the movie. Though the role is hardly a stretch for Reilly, he does a great job making the character sympathetic despite a hilariously awkward introduction at party (a partial version of this scene is shown in the clip below). He’s funny, vulnerable, and intelligent and becomes someone the audience is rooting for.

Tomei too demonstrates why she’s received numerous allocates over the past two decades. He role is the most tricky in this production, having to play against two strong characters and two actions familiar with improvization, the Duplass trademark. It is an often raw, often unglamourous performance and Tomei pulls it off naturally.

Faring well but not great is Hill who to his credit keeps “angry Jonah” and “kiss-ass Jonah” in check for the role as a very disturbed young man. The film tries to paint a sympathetic picture of Cyrus, but there isn’t enough content to connect all the dots at least for me. Hill’s best parts occur during the second act when the adversarial relationship between John and Cyrus accelerates. Unfortunately, a too short and too pad third act don’t quite do justice to Cryus the character and Cyrus the film. The ending is really the main problem with the film. It’s plays it safe (far far too safe) and does so in a way with a small but not big emotional payoff.

The film is shot in documentary style with many jump zooms. Let’s put it this way. If you thought the lens flare in Star Trek was too noticable you’d be blind to miss the jump zooms in Cyrus. They get old, really quickly (you can see a few in the clip below).

Catherine Keener is also on hand to play John’s supportive ex and Matt Walsh playing her new fiance. But this is really a three-person film. Cyrus is often hilarious and at times touching, but not quite achieving greatness. But Cyrus is well worth seeking out for the great performances by Reilly and Tomei, and an interesting brand of filmmaking.


One Response to “Reilly, Tomei Lead Accolades for ‘Cyrus’ (****)”

  1. christian

    i just saw it myself got to say what a flick.


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