John meets Molly.
John likes Molly.
Incredibly, Molly likes John as well.
If only things were that easy.
That's "Cyrus" in a nutshell. Mark and Jay Duplass wrote and directed the picture, and it is a small intimate film that Fox Searchlight can absolutely sell like a mainstream hit. It is a smooth piece of satisfaction, and that's not soft praise. There's a light, effortless quality to the film. You never see any of the typical mechanics of plot. Each scene is polished, burnished by both the improvisation process during shooting and an exhaustive, precise editing schedule that they enjoyed on the film. This is a film as wise about the relationships between men and women as Albert Brooks in the "Modern Romance"/"Lost In America" phase of his career. This is a grown-up movie, and yet paralyzingly funny in places. It's uncomfortable, but it's not shot through with the casual misanthropic horror of a "Curb Your Enthusiasm."
"Cyrus" is an original, though, for all of the comparisons I just made. I'm just trying to describe a general reaction on my part. The film opens with John (John C. Reilly, who gives one of the best performances of his career here) being told by his ex-wife Jamie (the always awesome Catherine Keener, who is, not surprisingly, awesome) that she's going to be getting remarried to Tim (Matt Walsh). It has, after all, been seven years since she divorced John. Still, he hasn't moved on. He hasn't recovered. He hasn't even tried. Jamie talks him into going to a party with her and Tim, and he reluctantly agrees. At the party, he meets a woman, Molly (Marisa Tomei), and something clicks between them. It's just natural and real and a reaction that makes perfect sense as staged by the film.