Star Rating:

C'mon C'mon

Director: Mike Mills

Actors: Joaquin Phoenix, Gaby Hoffman, Scoot McNairy

Release Date: Friday 3rd December 2021

Genre(s): Comedy, Drama

Running time: 98 minutes

‘C’mon C’mon’ follows Johnny (Joaquin Phoenix), a radio journalist whose latest gig sees him travelling across the US, interviewing children on their thoughts for what the future holds. During his travels, his sister Viv (Gaby Hoffmann) asks if he’ll babysit her son and his nephew, Jesse (Woody Norman). Viv’s estranged husband Paul (Scoot McNairy) is struggling with mental illness and when he needs further care from Viv, she asks Johnny if he’ll mind Jesse for longer, and so a road trip ensues.

Having won the Oscar for ‘Joker’ and led an illustrious career with terrific performances, Joaquin Phoenix of all people can pick whatever roles he wants now. ‘C’mon C’mon’ proves his investment in interesting, surprising and meaningful projects remains consistent, as does his talent – though if we do say so ourselves, newcomer Woody Norman steals every scene.

Gaby Hoffman impresses too in a deeply moving performance as we see her struggles being a sister, mother, wife, daughter and carer. Phone calls with Johnny punctuate the movie nicely as we see the once feuding siblings come to a place of understanding and compassion.

There is a sadness running through ‘C’mon C’mon’ as it reflects on the devastation of mental illness, but stronger is its celebration of the bonds of family, and the marvel of children. The interviews with kids that open the movie demonstrate their funny and often very sharp insights, their concerns and fears about the future all too real.

Of course the primary representative of young people in the film is Jesse and the aforementioned phenomenal performance from Woody Norman is a huge part of that. So too is Mike Mills’ electric script and direction. The messing around and playful scenes are given as much weight and priority as those revolving around deep conversation. There’s a remarkable sense of authenticity as ‘C’mon C’mon’ captures the tougher parts of child rearing too. One feels inspired as we see Jesse bring out a more vulnerable and gentler side to Johnny.

The black and white cinematography (from Irish Dop Robbie Ryan) is lovely and never imposing. It complements the theme of living in the present versus thinking about what’s next, and there are some stunning shots of LA, New York, Detroit and New Orleans. There are some very funny moments too emerging from Jesse’s quirky habits, like when he pretends to be an orphan, along with his blunt questions, such as why Johnny isn’t married. Flowing from one scene to another are these tender, sweet, little moments, culminating in a finale that’ll leave your head thoughtful and heart filled.