Mumble Corps. Don’t expect a comedy.
Mumblecore film makers Jay and Mark Duplass move in to the mainstream with their 2010 release Cyrus. The film focuses on the recently divorced John (John C Reilly), who is struggling to adjust to life without his wife. After he falls for what seems to be the perfect woman, Molly (Marias Tomei), he begins to feel that he is happy. Everything seems good, until he meets Molly’s grown son; Cyrus (Jonah Hill) who will go to any length to protect his mom and keep her to himself.
Directorial brothers Jay and Mark Duplass are at the heart of an American independent film movement, mumblecore, which arose at the beginning of the 21st century. Among many influences of the mumblecore movement are Danish directors Lars Von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg, who in 1995 created the “Dogme 95 Manifesto” and the “Vow of Chastity”. This avant-garde film movement was based around a list of rules that filmmakers must abide by when making films. They are required to stick to the traditional rules of filmmaking and refuse the use of special effects and technology. A total of 254 films have been made according to these rules.
The mumblecore movement follows its own set of rules: really cheap modes of production, improvised scripts, non professional actors and a tendency to focus on personal relationships between people.
Although Cyrus (the film) is being regarded as the debut mainstream film for the Duplass brothers they have still managed to stick as close as they can to their mumblecore ideas. The film’s budget, for a start; a paltry seven million dollars, which seems to have been mostly spent on its highly rated leading actors, Reilly and Hill.
John C Reilly and Jonah Hill work best in a comedy pairing, with Reilly and Ferrell in the hilarious Step Brothers and Hill and Cera in the sensational Superbad. Taking the funnier people from each pair and putting them into a film is a promising idea. An idea that is achieved triumphantly. The two share a dynamic that blends in your face, laugh out loud comedy with more subtle hints that raise a smile. The comedy pairing is held together by a surprisingly strong performance by Marisa Tomei.
The problem with this film is that it was marketed as a comedy. The trailer sets up a zany comedy with slapstick, jokes and even a controversial movie poster. The film took me by surprise and left me feeling that I was tricked in to watching something else. Cyrus achieves 8/10.