The Life And Times Of Cyrus

The Life And Times Of Cyrus

Static Mass Rating: 4/5CYRUS (DVD)
20th Century Fox 

Release date: February 21st 2011
Certificate (UK): 15
Running time: 92 minutes

Director: Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass

Cast: John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill, Marisa Tomei, Catherine Keener, Matt Walsh, Diane Mizota, Kathy Wittes, Katie Aselton, Jamie Donnelly, Tim Guinee, Charlie Brewer, Steve Zissis

Cyrus’ first couple of minutes look like it’s a quirky rom-com, held together by physical comedy and childish jokes. Not to knock the genre, but there’s a time and a place for that type of film, which Cyrus is not. Once you’ve gotten into the film, it shows its true colours: a subtle, funny and charming movie with a genuine indie feel – encouraged by the shy and simple camerawork.

The story is about 7-year divorced John (John C. Reilly) who finds happiness with Molly (Marisa Tomei). Happiness which is threatened by her overbearing son, Cyrus (Jonah Hill). A formula as old as time itself, alarm bells should be ringing that you have seen this before.

But no, this is where the film really comes into its own. Right from the start – after the initial minute and a half – Reilly is, without a doubt, superb as John. His loneliness when coupled with alcohol is very endearing, and doesn’t fall into the realm of boringly pathetic. You can pity him, but you wouldn’t want to avoid him at a party. His performance only improves at the film goes on.


The same can be said for Hill and Tomei. The tenderness of their relationship in the earlier parts of the film firmly lays down the foundation for the later tensions between John and Cyrus. Albeit slightly creepy at points, it does all appear quite sweet and innocent; except for that nagging feeling John has that he’s competing for Molly’s affections. The clues are subtle yet clear, and the succession of hilariously awkward scenes promise for the plot to unfold like this.

It does, admittedly, slow down towards the middle – and falls prey to being predictable. The battle that John and Cyrus undergo during this stage of film is a necessary plot device, but does detract slightly from its overall appeal. Alongside the odd line of dialogue that doesn’t quite suit the characters, it could easily have been a standard film. There are places when it’s stepping into familiar territory, particularly with John’s private conversations with Cyrus.

The film does, however regain the energy it built up in the first half before it ends as subtly as it started. The wedding scene sets itself up as either a disaster for the characters or a boring turn for the audience, but it delivers that disaster just at the right moment in perfect doses for maximum impact.

The ending fits in perfectly with the start of the film, and is exactly how you want it to end without being too over-sentimental. With a terrific cast and a very funny, well written script, Cyrus truly is a touching and entertaining film.

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