When I left the theatre today after seeing Cyrus, I heard the two guys behind me say ‘We should have gone to see Inception again, after all’. And I could see their point. Not because Cyrus was a bad film, as it is isn’t at all, but because they believed the poster. When I first saw the poster, my immediate thoughts were for Catherine Keener. I’ve been a fan of Keener ever since I saw her seduce the very young Jake Gyllenhaal back in 2001’s Lovely & Amazing. Can’t imagine why… And since then, we’ve had to endure her mistreatment as a mere plot device in Percy Jackson and the Lightning. A glance at the Cyrus poster and I just assumed that Catherine had now signed on to some badtaste romp through a lecherous teenage adolescence.
And so did the guys sitting behind me in the theatre. Fortunately for me they were wrong. But it’s not a good reflection on the marketeers that I decided to see this film despite their campaign.
Cyrus is, however, a film about growing up. John (John C Reilly) has not been able to move on since his ex-wife Jamie (Keener) left him seven years before. In fact, he seems to have reverted into a student state – dirty, seedy, messy and badly fed. Jamie keeps an eye on him because she wants to move on with her own life without having to worry about needy John. She and her characterless but rather angry fiance take John to a party so that he can meet women. So far, the film does seem to fit the poster, although the party itself is very funny. But when John meets the mysterious Molly (Marisa Tomei) at the party the film changes as John takes his first tenuous grown up steps. He comes to learn that Molly is secretive because of her son, Cyrus (Jonah Hill), and it’s soon clear that if you had a son like Cyrus you’d be secretive about him too.
The hate-hate relationship between Cyrus and John as they battle for the attention of the beautiful, selfless, funloving and lonely Molly is agonising to watch albeit extremely entertaining in places (thinking of the scene where Jonah introduces Cyrus to his music). Molly may be naive but her main fault is that she loves her son unconditionally and it becomes increasingly difficult and frustrating for John to overcome this barrier. But, much of the time, until he realises how much the happiness of his ex-wife matters to him and that he has fallen in love with someone else, John’s as irritating as his potential stepson. Finally, both John and Cyrus have to accept that nothing matters more than the importance of the person closest to them and that love means not making yourself the most important person in the room.
Cyrus is a beautifully acted film, as one would expect from such a cast, but, unfortunately, they are filmed by the most iritating cameraman. He hasn’t got a tripod and he can’t focus his camera. It irritated me as much as Cyrus at some points and was completely unnecessary. At times, I thought the cast would walk into him, which is distracting to say the least.
But don’t set me off about the ending…
Despite these surface irritations, I throroughly enjoyed Cyrus. At times, it was a moving drama about what happens when you realise that you have to grow up. But the poignant lessons were mixed in with some very funny scenes which showed that it doesn’t always have to be so serious.
Aside: Today’s WDW post was about Catherine Keener.