SXSW Film: Cyrus

One of the Highlights of this year’s SXSW festival, Cyrus holds nothing back creating a film that leaves it’s audience erupting with laughter. The difference with Cyrus as opposed to the more main stream Jonah Hill, John C. Rielly comedic fair is it’s ability to maintain a heartfelt feeling through out it’s 92 minutes run time.

Cyrus is the the story of John (Reilly), an abundantly pathetic divorcé who may have just met the woman of his dreams, but the only thing standing in front of their white picket fence new life is her border-line son, Cyrus (Hill). Cyrus is 21, still living at home with a mother he refuses to share. Their mixed parental relationship could be the result of Molly’s (Marisa Tomei) inability to let Cyrus grow up or due to the fact that his own mental issues won’t let her let go. Molly’s parental misfortune leaves John in a place where he will have to play Cyrus’ mind games in order to keep the woman he loves.

This mixed up love triangle is created from the minds of writer/directors Jay and Mark Duplass; the pair behind Puffy Chair, another festive favorite. This time they take a sadistic look into the lives of the contemporary family reminding us that even heart-breaking stories can have a comedic edge. The Duplass brothers approached shooting Cyrus using the Duplassian method: allowing the actors to create their own dialog. This, along with shooting in chronological order allows the film to develop it’s own heart that is definitely felt through out. These unconventional methods allow the entire cast to shine.

When it comes to improv acting, you can do no better the Jonah Hill and John C. Reilly, but in Cyrus, Jonah steals the show. Jonah creates a character in Cyrus that is so unpredictable that at times I couldn’t tell if the film was about to go into a much darker tone and instead of Cyrus just stealing shoes he could be pushed into doing something more violently sadistic. Jonah has created a character in Cyrus that proves he can carry his own film and I look forward to seeing him in a starring role in the future.

Reilly delivers a performance that will be loved by all his fans, though some may be surprised that Cyrus is not just another Step Brothers. Gone are the dick and fart jokes only to be replaced for a true compassion for the story at hand. Reilly rarely disappoints; the guy can do it all and with the diversity of his character, he only proves that statement again. It’s ability to not only create a connection between the actors in the film but the fact that the audience feels for him too, Reilly’s diversity always seems to surprise me  and he doesn’t let me down when it come to Cyrus.

Over all, Cyrus brings the laughs but what people need to understand is that it is no Taladega Nights. Instead of being a distraction for your day-to-day life, Cyrus confronts these issues head on, but does so in a way that you will always have a smile on your face. If I have any grips with Cyrus, it is in the fact that that instead of diving head first into the emotional issues we are subdued with, it’s a comedy until the final resolution, a resolution that I wish had taken a darker tone, but overall does not hurt the film.

I give Cyrus 3.5 “Knife-wielding Jonah Hills” out of 5.

by Ryan Davis

About Ryan Davis

Ryan is the Founder of Lost in Reviews, a member of The Kansas City Film Critic's Circle, and a key component in the movement to digitally restore the 1986 classic film The Gate. Ryan is also the co-host of Blu Monday a DVD and Blu Ray review show which Lost in Reviews co-founder Angela Davis also appears. While he may be a film and music snob, that doesn't mean you can't be friends. Well it could if you don't like the same bands or films he does, overall it might be best to avoid the subject all together.

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