Cyrus is a film that would benefit greatly from an audience that has never seen its trailer.
With its low-tech aesthetic, it’s very nearly a film pretending to be something it’s not – not an offender like Dan in Real Life, but in the vein of Pieces of April or Sherrybaby. Hand-held cameras and tight zooms make for a borderline uncomfortable intimacy with faces old, young, unpleasant, and pretty. Although this establishes a methodical scratch across the lens of LA life, telling us that, yes, this is what real life is like for “normal” people, you’re never sure exactly what any of the characters do outside of their small, 3-person social lives and undefined jobs.
Unfolding slowly and revealing nothing that we don’t already know from the preview material, we gradually learn that John (John C. Reilly) is crazy for Marisa Tomei’s bubbly Molly; a pretty and fun 40-something who, it turns out, has a 21 year-old son, Cyrus (Jonah Hill). As we all already know, Cyrus is more than a little bit creepy, and wants to screw John over without his mother suspecting a thing. Hill’s performance shines in the trailer, but does nothing to flourish on screen in the following 90 minutes. His creepiness factor is actually diminished with the refreshing lack of a neckbeard; a look of which the actor is so fond.
Rather than poking fun at the less-than-natural relationship between Molly and Cyrus, the subject is tip-toed around, leaving a void where the audience is unsure whether to laugh or bear judgment. While the pacing is excellent, there are no surprises, making for a long, drawn-out journey towards a climax that falls on its face along with John and Cyrus. All that’s left to decide is how Molly will handle the situation.
Only vaguely endearing, Cyrus is easy on the laughs and leaves little to the imagination.
Cyrus is released in UK cinemas this Friday, 10 September.