Writer-director Mike Mills has made one of the best films of the year. Seriously, C'mon C'mon is inspirational. This black-and-white beauty will leave you in awe. Joaquin Phoenix and Woody Norman shine from beginning to end. Personal, empathetic, and completely human. 5-stars.
“To visit planet Earth, you will have to be born as a human child..."
C'mon C'mon is structured on a simplistic story with a lot of emotional depth, slowly melting your heart away. Mills' (Beginners and 20th Century Women) story follows a radio journalist named Johnny (a phenomenal Phoenix). Johnny is traveling crossed-country: interviewing children and teens about their lives and their thoughts on the future. While Johnny is traveling with his producing partners, he gets an urgent call from his sister Viv (a tremendous Gaby Hoffmann). Viv's estranged husband Paul (Scoot McNairy) is struggling with mental illness and has recently run away. Viv needs Johnny to watch her son Jesse (newcomer Norman); while she takes care of Paul. Here, we get to see and explore Johnny's relationship with his nephew, blossoming into a beautiful picture about feelings, love, and gratitude. Jesse ends up traveling with Johnny on his interviews (New York City and New Orleans). Johnny needs to learn how to care for a child; while Norman needs to learn how to open up about his feelings and concerns in life.
“You will grow up, travel, and work. Over the years you will try to make sense of that happy-sad-full always-shifting life you were in..."
Mills' C'mon C'mon is a deeply moving portrait of life and what connects us as human beings. Norman's acting chops are a force of nature in this film. He grabs ahold of you, never letting go. Norman's marvelous performance shines brightly in this movie. He has a bright future ahead of him. Likewise, Phoenix also gives us another moving performance. I really enjoyed Phoenix's performance here. Johnny is vulnerable: always learning how to deal with his past grief. In addition, the movie's black-and-white cinematography by Robbie Ryan (The Favourite and Marriage Story) is drop-dead gorgeous. C'mon C'mon is one of the best-looking pictures of the year. Mills' film feels authentic, and it also feels real. The children and teens that Phoenix's character interviews in this movie are real people. Likewise, their answers are also real, non-scripted. By doing it this way, the movie felt more raw and genuine. It also brought a sense of sadness over you by listening to the pain of these young kids.
"...and when the time comes to return to your star, it may be hard to say goodbye to that strangely beautiful world..."
The chemistry between Phoenix and Norman keeps the audience invested as their bond will capture your soul. C'mon C'mon is charming and also incredibly funny at times. Mills' picture knows how to juggle a lot of topics. All of them are equally balanced throughout. There were many scenes where I was laughing, only to be holding back tears in the next. That showcases the craftsmanship and skilled direction Mills molded into this picture. The most human movie of 2021, finding its voice, talking to the audience as we listen. C'mon C'mon is not only a great film, but also a great film that needs to be recognized this awards season. I am afraid that this will be one of those movies that stays largely out of the awards conversation, which would be a shame. So, do yourself a favor if C'mon C'mon is playing at your local theater; go see it right now. Let the sweet melody of Clair de Lune take ahold of you. You will laugh, you will cry, you will be inspired. This tender film about human relationships in this messy world of ours is a masterclass from beginning to end.
Want to hear more of my thoughts about C'mon C'mon? I spoke with my good friends, Matt and Ashley, on their podcast, Mashely at the Movies | Listen Here.
C'mon C'mon is rated R (Restricted) Language
Directed by Mike Mills
Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Woody Norman, and Gaby Hoffmann.
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