Friday, December 3, 2021

C'mon C'mon - Review


Imagine the most comfortable, warm blanket on a cool night you can think of. Now, find a way to apply that to film and you might have something comparable to what Mike Mills has done with C’mon C’mon. A masterful display of small, unforced intimacy and emotion and the wisdom of children that can only come from ones not yet burdened with life’s many experiences. It’s a comforting, joyous film that’s just as emotional for the audience as its characters. 

The aforementioned children are the subjects of interviews being conducted by Johnny, played by Joaquin Phoenix, and his colleagues. It’s unclear what the project as a whole entails, but radio journalist Johnny is venturing to different cities, asking questions to kids that he’s not really good at answering himself. Along the way, he finds himself a temporary traveling companion in his nephew Jesse, played by Woody Norman, the curious son of his distanced sister, played by Gabby Hoffman. 

Director Mike Mills makes one very clear distinction with his newest feature: life doesn’t get harder, it just gets a little less clear, a little foggier as time passes. The way we communicate with one another shifts, and how we process our own emotions vary from day to day. Throughout the film, family members struggle to articulate their fears and troubles they are facing, opting to avoid them altogether. But then something intervenes, whether its the the wonderful Star Child by Claire A. Nivola or Jacqueline Rose’s Mothers: An Essay on Love and Cruelty, that opens their eyes and helps them process their emotions. 

After his Oscar win for Joker, it’d be easy to see Joaquin Phoenix as only that villainous portrayal. But Mike Mills returns to Phoenix to his best demeanor, vulnerable and light. As the sometimes out of his element uncle, Phoenix gets to be playful and heartfelt with his high-energy, imaginative nephew. Speaking of whom, is portrayed by a fantastic performance from Woody Norman, who possesses the inquisitive innocence of childhood so necessary for C’mon C’mon to work. 

It’s a film that’s a gorgeous and moving experience. It’s not overly complex as a narrative, but C’mon C’mon wears its heart on its sleeve. The black and white cinematography from Robbie Ryan and the score Bryce Dessner and Aaron Dessner give the film a familiar and magical quality. Even mundane activities become meaningful in this world created by Mike Mills and all his fellow creatives behind the scenes.

There are always films to recommend to people during awards season, plenty of awards hopefuls that people will undoubtedly catch up on later. But few feel more universal than C’mon C’mon, and few provide the pleasant feeling that the film leaves you with once the credits roll. If you only see a few films as the year winds to a close, make C’mon C’mon one of them, you won’t regret it. 

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