Cyrus – Review

Worth seeing: as an unusually taut, darkly comic, pleasingly dramatic and surprisingly fresh romantic comedy
Director:Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass
Featuring:John C Reilly, Jonah Hill, Catherine Keener, Marisa Tomei, Matt Walsh
Length:91 minutes
Released:10th September 2010


John (John C Reilly) is miserable and lonely.

It’s seven years since he split from his ex-wife Jamie (Catherine Keener) and he still hasn’t even started getting over it.

When she announces that she’s remarrying, he’s beyond distraught and try as he might, he can’t even begin to put on a brave face. Jamie owes him nothing but feels sorry for him, so she invites him to a party she’s going to, hoping to show him that if he puts himself out there, he might just find happiness again, like she has.

Being out of practice, with one embarrassing chat-up after another, he’s crushed under the weight of his fake bravado and crashes and burns horribly, until one equally wounded woman, Molly (Marisa Tomei), warms to his sweet and charming failure and starts to flirt with him.

Against the odds, he doesn’t mess it up, and before long, they’re dating. It all seems too good to be true – so, of course, it is.

On his first visit to Molly’s house, John discovers that she lives with her son – her adult son Cyrus (Jonah Hill), whose jealousy and protective nature have left her alone for the best part of two decades. No other man can get close to his mother.

When Molly is around, both men are polite and any competition for her time and love is imperceptible, but the moment her back is turned, the claws come out and they’re practically fighting to the death over her.


The premise isn’t particularly original, but as the plot unfolds, it feels surprisingly fresh.

John and Molly – while caricatures – are so warmly played that the audience will fall for them instantly.

Cyrus appears like the monster in a horror film, hiding in the shadows or brandishing a large knife in the middle of the night, yet even his misguided motives can be understood.

Reilly initially makes a real effort to bond with his girlfriend’s son and his pain and exasperation are palpable as overtures are latently rejected.

This is an odd blend of high-profile producers (the Scott brothers) and actors (Reilly, Tomei, Hill and Keener) with little-known previously-no-budget directors (the Duplass brothers) and a low-key situation and characters.

It looks low budget in all but the faces we see on screen – and the high quality performances comfortably lift a small film onto the big screen.

The situations are as believable as they are unnerving – and you never know quite what pranks are going to be pulled as John and Cyrus smile sweetly at each other.

But as is so often the case, the plot is eventually propelled to an over-the-top conclusion by a series of less convincing twists and turns.

From the trailer, with Hill and Reilly, it looks deceptively like a Judd Apatow-style frat-fest, but it’s actually a surprisingly taut tale, darkly comic, but pleasingly dramatic.