Mumblecore meets the mainstream with this exquisite comedy from DIY writing/directing team the Duplass Brothers. Down-on-his-luck divorcee John C Reilly thinks he's hit the jackpot when he meets the woman of his dreams (Marisa Tomei). However, he discovers she has another man in her life - her overweight son (Jonah Hill). A 21-year-old new age musician, Cyrus is his mom's best friend and will go to any lengths not to share her. Before long, the two are locked in a battle of wits for the mother/girlfriend they both love. A sweetly sombre joy.
John C Reilly
The "mumblecore" tradition of American cinema has so far had you reaching with dark intentions for a tyre wrench more than it's invited glowing superlatives.
Just check out Hannah Takes The Stairs. Or rather, don't.
Twee, fey, dodgily acted and often over-reliant on amateur actors who can't improvise...to improvise, Mumblecore has summed up in a couple of dreary hours just how wearyingly self-obsessed US indie film-makers can get.
This gem of a comedy from brothers Jay and Mark Duplass could change all that.
These mumblecore pin-up boys have broken the "no professionals" dictum and gone for a starry cast that includes John C Reilly, Jonah Hill, Marisa Tomei and Catherine Keener. Why? Well, because they can act.
The result is a bittersweet romantic comedy/drama that enchants precisely because it doesn't go down the Hollywood route to excess yet never slips into the mumble-mire of tedious self-absorption.
Reilly plays John, a crumpled divorcee desperate to hook up with someone - anyone - but hidebound by the conviction that he "looks like Shrek".
Tomei is Molly, a cougar-ish forty-something who takes a shine to lonely John and his painfully honest personal assessments. She tips her hat at him during a wonderfully embarrassing karaoke version of The Human League's Don't You Want Me?
Love of the middle-aged variety - ie scarcely believing - blossoms...but Molly is keeping something from him: a rotund 21-year-old son Cyrus (Hill), who has never left home and harbours disturbing passive-aggressive tendencies.
This could have bobbed quite happily down an Apatow-style broad comedy route but, instead, evolves into something far subtler and, for what is purportedly a rom-com, more than a little disturbing.
Molly's all-exclusive motherlove for the clinging Cyrus is just a little odd ("the wrestling thing is a bit weird," opines John's ex-wife and best buddy Keener at one point).
And John and Cyrus's power struggle - two man-children mentally slugging it out - is minutely observed with petty slights multiplying until the terrified Cyrus confronts his unflinching rival in a hotel toilet.
An indie comedy that can punch its weight with the big boys.