I just spent the past 5 hours shoveling snow and well, it sucked. So getting through this storm is part of my review now because I just need to add to my sucky day. I really despise mumblecore film. I’ve tried really hard to enjoy it. For all that don’t know, this is a film style that heavily borrows from the film “Slacker” or anything by John Cassavetes. Therefore mumblecore can be defined by ultra-low budget production (often employing digital video cameras), a focus on personal relationships between twenty-somethings, improvised scripts, and non-professional actors. The Duplass Brothers are really in the forefront of this movement. The thing is that I really enjoy Mark Duplass as an actor. He is an amazing supporting comedic actor and also his work on the FX program The League is so friggen funny. So I was really excited to see what was going here. Unfortunately I did not get what I had expected. I got a slow drama with a few comedic moments.
I think most of my disdain comes from expectations that did not get fulfilled. So here is the set-up. This film is about a bunch of depressed people trying very hard to cling on to what they have left and their expectations of love and family. John is a down-and-out divorcee who’s never fully gotten over the split with his ex, Jamie, seven years ago. She’s still his best and only friend, but at the beginning of the film she drops by to tell him that she’s getting married. She invites him to a party and urges him to get back into the dating game. Party-goer Molly spies him peeing in the bushes outside—it’s the second time he’s been caught with his pants down and she strikes up a flirty conversation. Soon, they’re in a fledgling romance. He trades in his sweat pants and a t-shirt for real clothes, tidies up his pad, and cooks her a proper meal. “I just decided to give it my all, which is not the cool guy thing to do,” he says. But she doesn’t want a “cool guy.” She wants him, even though her life is “really complicated right now.” What Molly doesn’t tell John is that she lives with her 21-year-old man-child, Cyrus. Their relationship is Oedipal.
When John’s sudden intrusion turns this happy twosome into an uncomfortable threesome, Cyrus starts a cold war of passive-aggressive emotional manipulation. Cyrus basically acts like a creepy little jerk by showing up unexpectedly while John and Molly are trying to be intimate. John would like to punch him in the face. We want John to punch him in the face. But John feels like he needs to keep up a guise with Molly as well, pretending that everything is okay between him and her sneaky bastard of a son. This should have been really funny, but it was so dramatic that the funny stuff got wicked creepy.
What the film does best is keeping the characters grounded. The film keeps what seems like insane characters very normal. This is also the reason this film is sort of a bore. It’s all too real feeling. But that is “mumblecore.” Just not my cup of tea. Sure there were plenty of really funny moments that were severely cringe worthy so you could not laugh out loud. I really wanted to laugh out loud but I spent most of my time cringing or bored. The film is also less than a visual masterpiece. There are nothing really to write home about when it came to the visuals of the film. The color palette was very muted and camera movement was all hand held. With a 7 million dollar budget I expected more than a movie that looked like it cost 50 bucks.
Cyrus [Blu-ray] is available at Amazon.com and your local DVD outlets.
Ratings are based on a 5-star scale
Overall: 1.5 cringes out of 5.
Review by Bro “B” – Ben
We received a copy of this title for our book review. All opinions are our own.