Mike Mills cares deeply about the journalist, his nephew, and their youthful interviewees; and so do we.
Mike Mills’ latest entry “C’mon C’mon” loves family dramas, journalism, today’s generation, and how the world affects them for better or worse. Seeing this at the New York Film Festival, I was able to acknowledge what the director is trying to convey about his project. It studies its two main characters-the adult and child (as movies love connection together)-with a truthful and wisecracking attitude. matter of fact, the genre is labeled a drama, but it wisely sneaks in the levity.
The movie is also shown in black and white, something that Mills loves seeing in movies, and watching the character studies reminded me a bit of “Clerks.” It’s about life and whether or not people still have hope for it.
Joaquin Phoenix is the journalist Johnny, and he travels from state to state, interviewing today’s generation about how they see the world and what their cultures and communities have to offer. The interviews can also be heard in the end credits, and each segment is poetic, emotional, and outspoken. Even a Mardi Gras parade is invited in the story, as we eventually head over to New Orleans.
The actor, himself, is passionate about these interviews, as well. And it’s not just that, but also he has a hilarious and touching connection with British child actor Woody Norman, who plays his weird and eccentric nephew Jesse. The story has Johnny taking the boy from LA to NYC for work, while his estranged sister and Jesse’s mother Viv (Gaby Hoffman) deals with her mentally ill husband (Scoot McNairy).
The kid can be a handful for Johnny, because he annoys him, wanders off, and the uncle has to put his foot down. But even when they go Casey Affleck and Lucas Hedges on each other, they still manage to find the empathy within each other, especially since Jesse knows about his father’s connection and wonders why his uncle and mother don’t connect well.
I may have missed a few things in “C’mon C’mon,” but I still ate up the comedy, felt the characters’ pains, and absorbed myself into the next generation’s views on the world, life, and cultures. Phoenix keeps bringing himself to new territories, coming on the recent heels of “The Master,” “Her,” “You Were Never Really Here,” and his Oscar-winning role in “Joker.” And as a journalist, he really provides the scope and charisma that makes him match his character’s description.
When I saw this movie at the New York Film Festival, the audience and I were all shocked that Norman was British, because he does such a fresh job at portraying an American child. He nails it with the accent, yelling, and comic appeal. It’s usually a case when British actors either have easy or difficult times portraying American characters, but Mills told us the kid was spot on. And he is spot on for all the right reasons.
And Hoffman has her sly and honest moments when she deals with her son’s odd behavior and her estranged relationship with her brother. She seems like the exhausted mom, but there is a truth inside her that makes her admirable.
“C’mon C’mon” is something that audiences should see and acknowledge for all the elements I’ve mentioned, and it couldn’t have come in a more timely fashion. Pack your bags, and enjoy the trip.
In Select Theaters This Friday