Writer/director Mike Mills takes audiences on an easy-going, uniquely joyous road trip in C’Mon C’Mon and this is a heartwarming movie of the joys of family, exploration and the unexpected moments that make life what it is.
Johnny (Joaquin Phoenix) is an emotionally stunted and softspoken radio journalist who travels the country interviewing a variety of kids about their thoughts concerning their world and their future. Then Johnny’s saddled with caring for his young nephew Jesse (Woody Norman). Jesse brings a new perspective and, as they travel from state to state, effectively turns the emotional tables on Johnny.
Filmmaker Mike Mills takes audiences on a journey of both the geographic and the emotional in the simple yet heartwarming tale C’Mon C’Mon and thanks to the director’s keen eye and attention to detail, this one will certainly stay with you. Best described as a small, intimate, character study of family, parenthood and connection, C’Mon C’Mon sees a career-best Joaquin Phoenix proving why he is in such demand and telling a story that you feel means a lot to him. As Johnny, a cross-country travelling radio DJ and journalist, he’s a man without connections or attachments until they suddenly come calling to him in the form of his curious, playful and wild nephew Jesse (Woody Norman).
Mills takes his time in telling the story of C’Mon C’Mon and this is a piece of cinema that is expressed at its own time and pace, and its ability to just focus on the moment of the scene is what truly gets to you as an audience member. Best described as a series of vignette meetings as Phoenix’ Johnny is given charge of his wild and curious young nephew Jesse, this is the story of a man who must now accept responsibility as a quasi-parent and who for the first time in his life has the chance to experience what the concept of a family truly means. Shot in crisp black and white by cinematographer Robbie Ryan, C’Mon C’Mon has its own mood and feel to it. Mills focuses on character moments over sheer narrative and for audiences, it’s interesting to see the presentation of a story that feels so normal and home-grown and which unfolds in a real-time setting.
As he is known to do, Phoenix again slips inside the character of Johnny, a sharp, methodical DJ and journalist who is possessed of great empathy and understanding and who suddenly for the first time in his life has to undertake the role of a quasi-parent. What results is a sharp shock for a man who has lived his life for the majority of it as a bachelor and it’s through this new relationship and care for his young nephew Jesse that he comes to see a greater purpose for life and finds an appreciation for the little things that makes life worth living. The character of Johnny allows Phoenix to be incredibly introspective with his performance and as this story plays out before your eyes we see this man change and come to beware of the greater world around him and his place within it.
The approach that director Mike Mills takes to C’Mon C’Mon is entirely his own and it’s nice to see a film that follows its own pace and explores the internal emotions of its main character. Yes there are moments of heavy drama, which relate to the innocuous moments of parental life, such as losing a child in a crowd or simply becoming rundown with the day-to-day motions of parenthood, but it’s because of this that C’Mon C’Mon is so easy to connect with as an audience member and why it’s so uniquely charming. It’s a film of simple characters who exist in the world we all live in and who are prone to thoughts and meditations that we all think on.
C’Mon C’Mon is a beautifully articulated piece of cinema that gets to the heart of family, parenthood and what it means to be in someone else’s life. It’s a piece of cinema made with the sincerest of love and you can’t help but be dazzled by it.
Image: Transmission Films