Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Cyrus (2010) – Review

Cyrus is a tale of two movies, one is funny and well acted and the other is awfully directed and shot. Sadly, these are the same movie. The film is very awkward and will makes some viewers feel as uncomfortable as its characters, but this humor works well in the story and with the characters presented. They are all a bit off center in their own ways (but aren’t we all). The scenes that work the best are those that are meant to play as comedy. The more serious scenes do not play as well, partially due to the tone of the piece but mostly due to the director’s inability to visually connect the audience with the characters. The directorial style is so clumsy and goes so far out of its way to be ‘indy’ and noticeable that it works against the rest of the film. The viewer must like the film in spite of its visual style. While some directors can make very stylistic movies that are overly noticeable to viewer that completely succeed in connecting with the audience (like Wes Anderson or Steven Soderbergh for example), here the style just looks amateurish and so unpolished that is really takes away from the good film underneath. The director’s sole job is to connect the film to its intended viewers, the Duplass brothers have failed to do that utterly (unless the intended audience is only the select few that enjoy a certain ‘indy’ style of filmmaking that breaks filmmaking rules merely for the sake of it, rather than for the emotional impact that some of these techniques can add to the piece, this film uses them to no effect and to no emotional need or gain, purely because it can). Aside from the visual style, the film does work well and has a number of good scenes, which is a credit to the fine work of the actors. This is what makes the visuals more infuriating. It is not like they ruin some already bad film. They ruin what could have been a very good film. But alas, a film is the combination of everything seen and heard and here they do not compliment each other, rather they conflict. Jay and Mark Duplass do not add anything to the film as directors; they do provide a good script to start, but they must be able to hone their skills visually if they are to succeed as quality filmmakers going forward. The primary production team did not do great work here either, possible hampered by the style set forth by the Duplass brothers. Jas Shelton’s cinematography looks like it was shot with an iPhone camera and really brings nothing to the film. Annie Spitz’s production design does a good job making the viewer believe they are just watching average people living their average lives in average places. Michael Andrews’s score is mostly in the background and does not play a prominent role in the film, which is too bad as the right music could have helped viewers emotionally connect despite the style (and he has done good work in the past). But, the score is in line, like the rest, with the overall style, so the main complaint for the film is on style and with the directors. However, they were able to garner fine performances from their cast. John C. Reilly gives a great performance in the film and his interplay with Jonah Hill creates some of the most funny and best stuff. The film is saved in terms of being enjoyable by his work. Marisa Tomei and Catherine Keener are also good in their roles, but it is Reilly’s movie. Cyrus is disappointing because there is a lot to like, but the film’s style alienates its viewers and leaves them feeling empty. 6/10

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