On a recent trip to Minneapolis John C. Reilly sat in the seat behind me: immediately recognizing him I was ginger about approaching him: many known personalities are protective of their privacy and this I respect. As I went to deplane I mentioned how much I was looking forward to seeing “Cyrus”; he was instantly gracious, asked which carry on was mine; he was so tall, he was eye to eye with my wheelie. We chatted, parted and I was left knowing that he was a genuinely nice person. I went to see “Cyrus” with a bias, I wanted to like it because of him. Any concern dissipated in seconds; the movie is thoroughly entertaining, thought provoking and at times “warm and fuzzy”!
The story revolves around John (John C. Reilly) a lost soul still in love with his ex-wife Jamie (Catherine Keener), not looking for love in any of the right places. Jamie persuades him to attend a party with her and her fiancé. After a couple of false starts he meets and connects with Molly (Marisa Tomei, the cire perdue, the lost wax mold; only she can sculpt this character); midway into a flirtatious conversation he hears the commencement of a song “Don’t You Want Me” (Human League) he takes flight, with beer in hand, sings and dances (neither too well) foolishly, until Molly and others join in the gaiety. This scene cements our rooting for and championing this man. Anyone who adores music and dance can relate to hearing the first strains of a song and no matter how intense the conversation: Einstein’s theory of relativity, quality of the Hubble telescope images, latest fall fashions; the intellect freezes and the body is empowered with the magic of movement. “Mack the Knife”, “YMCA”, all of Abba electrify my dancing gene.
Molly and John have instant chemistry; rather miraculous after a seven year romantic draught for John. Here is a prime example of “if it’s too good to be true”….. Enter the corpulent, creepily cunning Cyrus (a mesmerizing performance by Jonah Hill). He is a precocious new age composer, (the music surprisingly sophisticated and moving) a sultry man-child of twenty-one with an unnatural attachment to his mother, Molly. They live in an insular world, a bubble, containing two first class seats. John, the interloper wants initially coach but rapidly yearns for business status.
The essence and power of this ménage a trois; the sparring, one-upmanship, intriguing dialogue; a war of words denigrating into a battle of blows; herein lies the success of “Cyrus”. The Duplass brothers (Jay and Mark) display an uncanny ability to capture the emotions, complexities, defeats and triumphs of the major characters. Like a funambulist they walk a tightrope balancing the salacious and sensational with the salubrious and intelligent. This balance is integral to the integrity of the film.
John C. Reilly has made countless films but “Cyrus” elevates his gift of depicting the vulnerabilities and strengths of the common man to extraordinary heights and box office delights!