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Film Review: C'mon C'mon

8 December 21 words: Manvir Basi

Come for Joaquin Phoenix, stay for a heartfelt performance from child actor Woody Norman...

Director: Mike Mills
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Gaby Hoffmann, Woody Norman
Running time: 110 minutes

C’mon C’mon, the latest Mike Mills film, is a profound, poetic and at times moving mediation on parenthood, growing up and life – all of which are captured in Robbie Ryan’s glorious black and white cinematography.

C’mon C’mon centers on Johnny (Joaquin Phoenix), a radio journalist who travels from state to state interviewing children for his radio show. Yet, when his sister, Viv, (Gaby Hoffmann) has to take care of her ex-husband, Johnny is called upon to look after his nephew, Jesse (Woody Norman). 

Johnny, like any new parent, finds himself floundering and struggling to juggle both his work life and looking after Jesse, who as the viewer will discover is far from the usual child. Jesse’s abundance of questions and curiosity about everything and anything, start to grate and dig into Johnny, who has had no such responsibilities before. In a telling exchange with Viv, Johnny realises that he, like any parent, is simply trying to do right and that nobody has the right answers.

An exquisite film that will be savoured by audiences and critics alike

In a press interview for the film, Mills likened the film to a “romantic comedy” in that we see the first joys of Jesse’s and Johnny’s relationship then we go through the patchy moments before finishing at a more joyful finale.

Throughout the film, Mills intersperses clips of children being interviewed by Johnny on a whole host of thoughts ranging from the future to the current state of the United States. What ensues are moments so raw and full of life that no Hollywood screenwriter could have dared to dream that up.

Viewers will be drawn to this film no doubt to see Joaquin Phoenix, who is on fine form as always but be in no doubt, once the credits roll, you will be talking about the excellent performance by Woody Norman. With C’mon C’mon, Mike Mills has – like he did with 20th Century Women and Beginners – delivered another exquisite film that will be savoured by audiences and critics alike. 

C’mon C’mon is in cinemas now

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