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Unbearable Reality

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

The Duplass brothers have been forerunners in the indie game since their debut, The Puffy Chair, hit the scene in 2005. Now with Cyrus, they’ve officially entered the studio system. If you’re worried this means they’ve “sold out,” as the kids say — there's no need.

They’re close-up, documentary style is in tact, only it’s matured. With Cyrus, the Jay and Mark Duplass have retained what made their early films so endearing, but they have taken their storytelling to new levels. And with talent like John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill, and Marisa Tomei, the film really comes into its own.

It’s a twist on the classic indie story of late. Down-and-out middle-aged guy, John (John C. Reilly), has all but given up on the prospects of love. But then he meets Molly (Marisa Tomei) and that’s all changed. Things are finally looking up. Then he meets her son, Cyrus (Jonah Hill). Still in his 20s and living at home, his relationship with his mother is what you would call creepy.

Jonah Hill’s portrayal of a sociopath intent on keeping the status quo is instantly classic. Whereas in Superbad he was flailing around at the top of his lungs, here he puts on the brakes and keeps it in the subtext. John C. Reilly (for whom the role of John was written) is the unknowing nemesis and his interplay with Hill is pitch perfect. The two also share great chemistry with Tomei.

The Duplass’ are skilled at capturing raw moments, whether it be funny, sad or unbearable. They create a story that inherits those emotions and brings them adeptly to the screen. They’re focus is the face, and you’ll immediately notice the plethora of close-ups, as they set out to capture storytelling through the characters’ reactions. It’s almost neo-Cassavettes as it captures humorous awkwardness the way A Woman Under the Influence captured pure raw discomfort.

It’s a fresh film that tells its story through reality. Shot chronologically, it portrays a building story with actors who are able to take it to that next level the Duplass brothers were ready to undertake. It’s definitely going to be this year’s breakout indie.