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Cyrus

Offbeat comedy trades on awkward laughs and good performances

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Don't be fooled by the ads: This isn't one of those silly comedies starring Jonah Hill (Superbad) and John C. Reilly (Step Brothers). Cyrus is the "upscale" new film from Jay and Mark Duplass (Baghead), the critical darlings of the sub-indie mumblecore set. Their feature is equal parts awkward to engaging, and nervous silence to LOLs, but with decidedly better production values.

Reilly portrays a lonely, divorced, middle-aged guy named John who finds a new love interest at a party. (He's coaxed there by his ex-wife, portrayed by the always-welcome Catherine Keener.) But Molly (Marisa Tomei) isn't entirely free: She's tangled up in a way-too-close relationship with her 21-year-old live-at-home son, Cyrus (Hill). What plays out is low-simmer mind-fuck between John and Cyrus, as each tries to secure the easily manipulated Molly's affections.

The film's pleasure is in watching these actors riff and react in this intentionally lo-fi setting. (Hill plays Cyrus as some twisted hybrid of the kid from The Bad Seed, 2001's HAL and a lost puppy.) The increasingly fraught narrative suggests a payoff that doesn't quite happen, but presumably that's the Duplass brothers' final gotcha. AMC Loews, Manor

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