sat 04/04/2020

Cyrus | reviews, news & interviews

Cyrus

Cyrus

Not Miley or even Vance but Jonah Hill as son of the lustrous Marisa Tomei

Three's company? John C Reilly finds out for himself, with Marisa Tomei and Jonah Hill as mother and son

At the same time, those of a certain generation will be curious to see Jonah Hill breaking free from the Judd Apatow stable, playing the overgrown kid, 21-year-old Cyrus, of the title. But outshining both the fellas is Marisa Tomei, who completes the film's sexual and emotional geometry with charm and flair.

At the same time, those of a certain generation will be curious to see Jonah Hill breaking free from the Judd Apatow stable, playing the overgrown kid, 21-year-old Cyrus, of the title. But outshining both the fellas is Marisa Tomei, who completes the film's sexual and emotional geometry with charm and flair. I know she won her My Cousin Vinny Oscar nearly 20 years ago (hard to believe!), but Tomei's getting better as she gets older, as The Wrestler, her ongoing New York theatre work, and now Cyrus prove.

Indeed, as was true of a ravishing performance opposite Mickey Rourke that was inevitably overshadowed by the media-friendly story of her co-star's cinematic rebirth, Tomei projects such natural allure that one simply has to take as dramatic licence yet another scenario that finds her down in the dumps when it comes to men. And, in any case, spoken for in terms of time, and perhaps rather more than that, by her panic-attack-prone boy, Cyrus, a stay-at-home played by Hill with an air of lumpen defeat that runs very deep.

One therefore appreciates the initial dynamic between Tomei's Molly and Reilly's John, who is the sort of drunk quick to parade his loneliness to all and sundry. Other things get, um, paraded as well in the course of the party that brings the two together, as might be expected from an unusually blunt "meet cute" moment that finds Molly commenting "nice penis" as her very first words to John.

A night of giggly inebriation and good music is one thing; the challenges posed by life another once John realises that any further pursuit of Molly is sure to include the decidedly peculiar third point in the triangle that is Cyrus. Cue a portrait of damage meted out amongst three walking wounded, flecked with humour and enough street-cred edge (and foul language) to maintain the indie-film credentials of the Duplass brothers, Jay and Mark, who both wrote and directed. ("Fucked up" is the movie's catch-all phrase of choice.)

Cyrus the film isn't especially profound, nor is it either moving or quite as fully creepy as one keeps expecting it to be. Instead, the material seems caught between the contradictory impulses to catch life on the lam and be done with it, along the lines of this year's earlier (and superior) Please Give, and to deliver its hapless trio somewhere resembling a state of low-budget grace, in which case how shameful that the wonderful Catherine Keener isn't given more to do. (She makes a brief appearance as John's previous, apparently infinitely accommodating wife.)

Hill, for his part, must feel as if he is on furlough from the Superbad universe over which he holds sway, one which Reilly himself dips into and out of again, en route from Oscar bait like Chicago to putative yukfests like Step Brothers. (Those in attendance at the 9 September performance of Deathtrap in the West End may have spotted him in the audience - the play's director, Matthew Warchus, having worked with Reilly on the superb 2000 Broadway revival of True West.) Both actors look commendably like real people, not movie stars, a trait that works on behalf of a decidedly unglamorous film. But then along comes Tomei and the temperature rises in a film where boys will be boys but when it comes to mum, mamma mia!

Watch the Cyrus trailer (YouTube):

Jonah Hill plays Cyrus with an air of lumpen defeat that runs very deep

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