The Reel Review
Johnny, an emotionally detached radio journalist, forms a bond with his nephew Jesse after a family crisis forces the two together on an unexpected road trip across the U.S., where Johnny interviews children for a documentary about their views on the fate of the world. Filmed in black and white, this drama about the complex and transformative powers of family relationships stars Oscar-winner Joaquin Phoenix (Joker).
C’mon C’mon is a sweet, VERY slow-moving tale of love, unresolved heartache and loss. It also explores the resilience of children in the face of adversity. Gaby Hoffman (Transparent, Wild) is Johnny’s sister Liv with Woody Norman as her precocious, curious son Jesse. The uncle and nephew’s time together ends up drawing out emotions each had buried – Johnny’s, over a failed romantic relationship and the death of his mother the year before from dementia, and Jesse’s, from the frustration of having a father in the throes of mental illness.
Although there really isn’t much story to this overlong, meandering slice-of-life drama, Oscar-nominated writer/director Mike Mills (20th Century Women) smartly lets his film breathe, soaking in the subtle moments of his characters. Some will find this film tedious, but for those who can appreciate its charming, tender moments, C’mon, C’mon contains thought-provoking perspectives about the importance of family ties. Also touching are the documentary-style interviews with the kids about the future – some are truly insightful.
• Devante Bryant, one of the children interviewed in the film, was killed in a triple-shooting in front of his home in New Orleans’ 7th Ward in July 2020.
• Woody Norman, who is British, did an American accent throughout the film and was nominated for a BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor.
• Writer/director Mike Mills (20th Century Women, Beginners) is also a graphic designer and an artist. He has produced commercials, music videos and even designed scarves and fabrics for fashion designer Marc Jacobs. His 2010 film Beginners, starring the late Christopher Plummer (who won an Oscar for the role), is based on Mills’ own experiences after his terminally ill, elderly father came out as gay following his mother’s death.