Cyrus review - Most romcoms mount barriers to love’s inevitable triumph.
The third film from mumblecore men Jay and Mark Duplass follows suit with a wickedly playful twist: the bar to romance between depressed fortysomething John (John C. Reilly) and the kindly, sexy Molly (Marisa Tomei) is her rotund 21-year-old son Cyrus (Jonah Hill), a creepily smirking momma’s man with passive-aggressive tendencies.
Slobby Cyrus is just one of many genre twists here. The opening mixes gross-out with cringe comedy, as John is caught masturbating by ex-wife Jamie (Catherine Keener).
He then goes to a party, pops outside for a slash, and, in a cheeky meet-cute variation, Molly admires his manhood and spurs an affair. So far, so saucy-sweet. But the game changes when John meets Cyrus and psychological warfare bubbles between them…
Rooting awkward chuckles in freaky family ties, the Duplasses then spin our sniggers by planting parallels between John and Cyrus. Just who’s the biggest man-child?
Treading a fine line between tragi-comedy and indie quirk, the cast also divine humanity from the humour – Reilly essays expertly rumpled befuddlement, while Hill plays crafty enough to seem quietly crackers yet restrained enough to be real.
His dark side is a revelation after earlier frat-packing. Sure, the Duplass’ approach can be overly poised when raw feeling is due.
Mostly though, this mumblecore-mainstream merger sustains their warmly offbeat voice and out-foxes us right to an unexpected teaser of a close.
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A comic love story with a heavyweight twist and a light touch, the Duplass’ mainstream step-up is sure-footed stuff, dodging easy satire for something more affecting and probing