C’mon C’mon (2021) Review!!

Synopsis – When his sister asks him to look after her son, a radio journalist embarks on a cross-country trip with his energetic nephew to show him life away from Los Angeles.

My Take – As evident by his excellent filmography which consists of Thumbsucker (2005), Beginners (2010), and 20th Century Women (2016), writer-director Mike Mills only makes films that are personal to him and focus on aspects of human nature.

Hence it isn’t surprising that his latest too is inspired by interactions with his own son and his documentary projects, and is presented in the form of a touching feel good emotional drama that displays the love and connection between kids and adults.

Alternately touching and slow moving, and framed with gorgeous looking black/white cinematography, this one is just a very simple story that will speak wonders to its viewers.

Sure, it is a cliché of a tale but director Mills sells it, largely thanks to Joaquin Phoenix’s expertly calibrated performance as a capable, thoughtful, and vulnerable man put in a unique and relatable situation.

The story follows Johnny (Joaquin Phoenix), a radio journalist who is occupied with his latest project which sees him and his producing partners travel the country interviewing children about their opinions on all aspects of life and the world, including their hopes and expectations for the future.

However, following a rare phone call with his estranged sister Viv (Gaby Hoffman), Johnny offers to take care of Viv’s 9 year old son, Jesse (Woody Norman), while Viv assists Jesse’s father, Paul (Scoot McNairy), who battles ongoing mental health issues. Though Viv is reticent to leave Jesse with Uncle Johnny, an unmarried man with no kids of his own, but being desperate for the help, she accepts.

Most of the film revolves around Johnny and Jesse spending time together and getting to know each other, as circumstances take the story from Detroit to New York City to Los Angeles to New York City to New Orleans. Though not much happens in the film, like no overly grand gestures of love, and no arch monologues, it still makes for a terrific journey that lacks any jaw-dropping cinematic elements.

The film is filled with lovely moments of humanity between Joaquin and Woody; as both of them traverse life as it stands for them individually, both of them talk about their own trials and tribulations in an attempt to relate with one another and seek both guidance and acceptance as well as understanding and familiarity.

For Johnny, he gains a perspective on parenting, which contrasts with his professional work interviewing kids. Jesse is whip smart and funny, but also manipulative and confused and downright quirky. It’s a humble portrait of a family’s deepening connections supported by a number of cinematic pleasures like expert sound design and cinematography.

Traveling around the country, Johnny also gets to ply his trade of recording youngsters for radio about the future. Because many of these subjects are not of Johnny and Jesse’s class and means, their answers provide a window into reality that reveals the optimism of youth with its ability to survive even these worst of times.

This and additional segments and the kids’ responses seem real, not staged, presenting a documentary feel, especially since everything is filmed in Black and White.

It also helps that Joaquin Phoenix puts in yet another career best performance, operating at a register he’s rarely found before. Playing a man learning to deal with his own vulnerabilities, and Phoenix really gets to show off his extraordinary acting talent. Being with him is cozy and calm, even in the most challenging moments. But the real standout, though, is Woody Norman, who is a complete revelation as Jesse. He perfectly portrays a normal kid with normal issues in a grown up world.

In a comparatively smaller role, Gaby Hoffman is also very good, tugging emotions in the most genuine way possible. Scoot McNairy too only in a few short scenes, is able communicate the emotional conflict of his mental health and marriage. On the whole, ‘C’mon C’mon’ is an intriguing and dynamic indie drama that is both intimate and genuine.

Directed –

Starring – Joaquin Phoenix, Scoot McNairy, Gaby Hoffmann

Rated – R

Run Time – 109 minutes

One response to “C’mon C’mon (2021) Review!!

  1. Pingback: Top 10 Best Hollywood Films of 2021 – A MovizArk Take!!! | Welcome to Moviz Ark!·

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