2010 Running time: 91 Certificate: 15 Rating: 4

Synopsis

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.

Directors

  • Jay Duplass

  • Mark Duplass

Cast

  • Jonah Hill

  • John C Reilly

  • Marisa Tomei

  • Catherine Keener

  • Matt Walsh

Review

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.

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