“Cyrus” (2010). Cast: John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill, Marisa Tomei, Catherine Keener, Matt Walsh. Directors: Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass. Screenplay: Mark Duplass and Jay Duplass. www.foxsearchlight.com/cyrus
It’s been said that the world around us is a mirror of what we’re thinking and feeling. Practitioners of conscious creation/law of attraction principles especially know this, that the reality we experience is a reflection of the beliefs we hold, regardless of whether we’re aware of what those beliefs actually are. That premise provides the basis of the quirky new comedy, “Cyrus.”
Quiet desperation characterizes much of the day-to-day life of John (John C. Reilly), a likable but neurotic divorcee who’s had trouble getting on with his life in the seven years since his split with his ex-wife, Jamie (Catherine Keener). But, if that weren’t enough, things only get worse when Jamie tells him about her plans to remarry. The news hits John hard, tempting him to retreat even further into his self-imposed isolation. But, despite their longstanding separation, Jamie still cares about her ex and wants to help John get his life back on track, so she and her fiancé Tim (Matt Walsh) invite him to accompany them to a party to meet some new people. John is initially hesitant about attending, but, much to his surprise, he has a great time, spending a wonderful evening with Molly (Marisa Tomei), a warm, friendly soul who not only appears to like John but who also accepts him for exactly who he is.
The chemistry—and intimacy—between John and Molly develop quickly, but John’s perplexed by one thing: Whenever they get together, Molly never stays the night. John decides to investigate why by secretly following her home one evening, and, in doing so, the amateur sleuth discovers she’s living with someone. But the situation is not what John thinks; Molly’s live-in is not her lover but her 21-year-old son, Cyrus (Jonah Hill).
Even though John is relieved to learn that Molly’s housemate is not a romantic rival, he’s also a bit baffled by the nature of Cyrus and Molly’s rather unusual relationship. Specifically, Cyrus brings new meaning to the term “momma’s boy,” making Oedipus look like a rank amateur by comparison. As Cyrus explains it, Molly raised him as a single mom, which brought the two of them unusually (some might say unnaturally) close. John finds the arrangement a bit strange but doesn’t think too much of it—that is, until that jealously guarded closeness begins impinging on the development of his relationship with Molly. Cyrus quietly and cleverly manipulates events, often making himself look like a victim or John look like the bad guy—and all the while skillfully keeping Molly in the dark about what’s really happening.
John quickly grows agitated at Cyrus’s efforts to sabotage things, so, out of frustration, he habitually turns to Jamie to seek advice, often at highly inopportune times that interfere with her work, her impending wedding plans or her intimate moments with Tim. Ironically, John’s neurotic dependency on his ex-wife becomes as much of an annoyance to Jamie and Tim as Cyrus’s schemings become an irritation to John. But the real question for John is, can he see the parallels between his beliefs (and their resultant behavior) and those of his shrewd youthful adversary? And, what’s more, what is John going to do about it, both for himself and in his dealings with Cyrus? Does he really see what’s being revealed to him in his own personal metaphysical mirror?
The notion of seeing reality as a reflection of our inner beliefs—the basis of how conscious creation/law of attraction principles operate—is plainly apparent here. But, as noted above, the key question for John (or anyone else similarly situated) is, what should he do about it if the reality he’s perceiving and experiencing is not to his liking? The answer is simple: Take a good hard look in the mirror to reveal what beliefs are generating the image being reflected.
This may be easier said than done, especially if someone is unaware of the fundamental process at work and engages in creation by default (a practice in which John appears to be heavily ensconced). So if one genuinely wants to change his or her reality, becoming aware of the very existence of the process is the first step, and having a mirror whose image unmistakably illustrates what’s amiss helps usher one onto the path of change by shining a light on what beliefs need to be rewritten to implement the desired alterations. And the more obvious the image, the more likely its message will be successfully conveyed, especially if identifying and ridding oneself of the outmoded beliefs underlying it has been persistently difficult. To that end, then, Cyrus might actually be doing John a big favor by his actions, no matter how maddening his tactics might appear on the surface.
“Cyrus” is an unusual but entertaining film. The performances are all strong, especially Hill, who demonstrates a range that goes far beyond his earlier works. There are plenty of laughs here, too, including some of a decidedly guilty pleasure nature. The pacing is a bit off at times, especially in the middle, when the film lapses into some overly talky sequences (characteristic of the Duplass Brothers), and the picture’s tone at times is somewhat darker than some of its marketing may have led would-be viewers to believe. But its strengths in other areas and its deft handling of its metaphysical themes make up for these shortcomings.
The next time you find yourself experiencing circumstances that don’t live up to your expectations, take a look in the mirror and assess what you see. And if answers still elude you, give this movie a look for the inspiration it provides. Doing so just might clarify that reflection so that you can see the truth for what it is and to change it in ways that make your reality more fulfilling.
Copyright © 2010, by Brent Marchant. All rights reserved.