On paper, Cyrus looks like a bit of a Sundance-baiting exercise. In one corner are the Duplass brothers, “mumblecore” filmmakers and in the other a cast that includes John C. Reilly, Catherine Keener and Marisa Tomei. But that’s not factoring in Jonah Hill, who’s about as far away from an arthouse drawcard as, oh, I don’t know, Wesley Snipes. Hill’s not really the key factor in whether this will resonate with an audience though, instead it is whether the Duplass brothers can achieve some sort of crossover from indie filmmaking’s fringes into its equivalent of mainstream.
Cast aside, Cyrus makes a play for achieving just that, focusing on relationships of both the romantic and overly close kind, and pitching in a bit of misery and boredom in search of a cliche Sundance vibe. More cred points are on offer from the film’s observational/improvisational style that bros Duplass bring along with them, but they’ve neglected the most important part – making the film interesting.
Despite the ripples of hype around them as filmmakers there’s nothing here we haven’t seen before, and certainly not enough laughs, empathy with the characters, or sense of discomfort to justify retreading familiar ground. None of this can be attributed to the cast, who unsurprisingly all turn in good performances (and perhaps Hill will have made a few unexpected fans in the process).