When his sister asks him to look after her son, a radio journalist embarks on a cross-country trip with his energetic nephew to show him life away from Los Angeles.
Joaquin Phoenix is one of the few actors working today who I’d happily watch in pretty much anything, and his latest movie, with Mike Mills (‘Beginners’, ‘20th Century Women’), provides him with a chance to shine in a more ‘normal’ role after his award winning turn in ‘Joker’. ‘C’mon C’mon’ tells the story of the bond that forms between an uncle and his nephew, when they find themselves living together for a short period of time.
Phoenix plays Johnny, a radio journalist who travels the country interviewing children about their lives and their thoughts on the future. It’s clear from the outset that Johnny is a bit of a sad fellow and there are events in his past that have led him to be as he is today, most of which are teased out by flashbacks and questions from his nephew Jesse (Woody Norman), once he comes on the scene. Jesse comes on the scene as a result of his mother (and Johnny’s sister) Viv (Gaby Hoffmann) calling him out the blue, requesting support to look after Jesse as she has to travel away to look after her ex-husband, who is suffering from severe mental illness. This ends up leading to Jesse moving temporarily to New York with Johnny, and the two start to build a relationship whilst there that ultimately leads to improvements in both of their lives.
The best way to describe ‘C’mon C’mon’ would be to call it a ‘pleasant’ film, one in which it’s nice to sit back and enjoy, even if it doesn’t really take you in any surprising directions. I must confess I did find it a little bit boring at times and despite being under 2 hours, it did drag at times for me. Phoenix is good, as he always is, and Norman is good as Jesse, and I can’t fault any of the acting, but everything plays out much as you’d expect it too and it never elevates itself beyond that for me. I did really like the little segways into Johnny’s radio interviews with children, which added a nice compliment to Johnny’s ‘real’ experiences in the moment with Jesse, and it’s something Mills does very well (I particularly liked ‘Beginners’, where Mills employed similar techniques to add something extra to the way he tells a story).
‘C’mon C’mon’ is a good showcase for Joaquin Phoenix’s acting and it’s a pleasant enough watch, but it never truly grabbed me and dare I say, I felt it might have been a little pretentious? (the black and white monochrome look – not really adding anything here….)
Directed By: Mike Mills
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Woody Norman, Gaby Hoffmann and Scoot McNairy