Monday 21 February 2011

CYRUS DVD review

Out now on DVD and Blu-Ray is the new offering from the kings of mumblecore, the Duplass Brothers. Watch the trailer and read my review, next...

John (John C. Reilly) has been divorced for seven years, but when he learns his ex-wife (Catherine Keener) is planning on getting remarried, he decides it's time to get out of his rut and meet new people. he soon finds a new beau in the shape of Molly (Marisa Tomei), a single woman who comes with some baggage. Her 22 year old son Cyrus (Jonah Hill) still lives at home, creating elaborate soundscapes on his synthesizers. Not too keen on his mother's new boyfriend, Cyrus tries to get in the way and sabotage their burgeoning relationship.

Cyrus marks the Duplass Brothers inevitable move away from the mumblecore movement, expanding the boundaries of what they've achieved so far. Mumblecore was known for its unique view at interpersonal relationships told through lifelike dialogue delivered by non-actors, but could only reach limited audiences due to its independent leanings. With Cyrus, they've retained the dialogue heavy script, although instead of non-actors they're now working with Academy Award nominated and winning actors. The script may still be partially improvised and shot with handheld cameras, but with Cyrus being released via Fox Searchlight, the Duplass Brothers just aren't quite as independent as they once were.

Similar in tone to Greenberg (the other notable recent mixing of the mumblecore aesthetic with Hollywood actors), Cyrus is a successful attempt to bring the Duplass Brothers to Hollywood, maintaining the fleshed out characters and real life dialogue that made them stand out from their contemporaries. As with the previous Duplass Brothers film The Puffy Chair, it's not quite as broadly comic a situation as the description may first sound. Rather than approaching slapstick or gross-out humour, Cyrus deals with the emotional effect things have on its characters, and it's all the better for it.

Cyrus may seem like the son from hell at first, but he's not a bad guy really. He's just not keen on losing his mother to John, so acts out like a spoilt child. Tomei's Molly may be enabling her son's arrested development, but their relationship is rather sweet, if somewhat unconventional. If this was a Farrely Bros. comedy, it would be more like Problem Child meets Misery with a bit of added incest, but in the hands of the Jay and Mark Duplass it's a mature, believable but still laugh out loud comedy.

The Duplass Brothers have clearly got great things ahead of them, proven here by their backing by Tony and Ridley Scott as producers. John C Reilly's performance as a endearingly pathetic middle aged man provides a lot of the heart, and Jonah Hill clearly likes improvising with the situations he's put in. As well as a 21st century family drama, it's also a sweet and tender romance, just one with a thorn in its side. The spirit of mumblecore has finally arrived in Hollywood.


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