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Movie Reviews

C’mon C’mon ★★★★



Director: Mike Mills

Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Gaby Hoffman, Woody Norman

Released: London Film Festival 2021

Mike Mills has been at the helm of humanistic American indie cinema for over a decade now. Beginners and 20th Century Women have had a profound effect on me on so many levels. There is a personal essence that not many filmmakers can naturally grasp on film. Family bonds are complicated, and we go through the motions within our inner circles, but underneath it, all our love for one another is what saves us.

His latest film C’mon C’mon follows Johnny (Joaquin Phoenix) and his young nephew Jesse (Woody Norman) as they forge a tenuous but transformational relationship when unexpectedly thrown together in this delicate and profoundly moving story about the connections between adults and children, the past and the future.

Mike Mills takes you on a journey like no other with C’mon C’mon. Utilising a documentary-style approach, Mills candidly explores the lives of all of these beautiful and troubled characters. There is an authentic and natural approach that never feels forced or uneven whatsoever. We all go through emotional repression in time, and Mills freely challenges you to express yourself. It is an emotional rollercoaster of a film that will make you laugh, cry and want to hug your loved ones.

Joaquin Phoenix in C'mon C'mon

What truly elevates C’mon C’mon is understanding childhood and how difficult situations can define us. Mills allows Woody Norman’s Jesse to be himself, and to listen to him speak is so exhilarating and saddening. Growing up can be difficult, and our emotions can get the best of us. There are situations that we can’t control, and the grown-ups around us may not always realise change affects even the younger family members. Jesse is going through a lot during his time with his uncle, and in many ways, they are each other salvation.

As Robbie Ryan’s cinematography takes you between Los Angeles, New York and New Orleans, his monochrome visuals make everything feel like a memory. The older we get, memories are something we cherish, and while our childhood may be a blur, there are some tender moments you never forget. The interactions between Jonny and Jesse are unbelievably tender and humbling. There is a genuine warmth that melts your heart as they enjoy re-connecting but also as they mend their broken hearts.

This was Joaquin Phoenix’s first film post-Joker, and it is a total u-turn from that performance. Jonny is one of his most astounding characters, and he dived into the role headfirst, and it never feels like just Phoenix being himself. His connection to Mills dialogue is key to why it’s such a heavenly connection with Woody Norman. He is a true find that delivered such a gargantuan performance for such a young actor. The film’s emotional weight comes from him, and there is an astounding amount of emotional maturity and intellect within him. Phoniex and Norman balance each other out so wonderfully, and you wish you could follow their story forever.

C’mon C’mon is a poignant reflection piece that will leave you broken but also smiling. The bittersweet essence of it all is so rewarding, and Mike Mills proves why he is one of the finest dialogue-driven filmmakers in the business today.

Dion Wyn, Author at Movie Marker

C’mon C’mon (2021) – IMDb – C’mon C’mon on IMDB

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