Facebook Twitter

C’MON C’MON: 3 ½ STARS. “a quiet movie that speaks volumes.”

In “C’mon C’mon,” a new black-and-white drama now playing in theatres, radio journalist Johnny, played by Joaquin Phoenix, says he likes to record sound because “it makes the mundane immortal.” Writer/director Mike Mills attempts to create that same kind of magic in his straightforward, unassuming film.

The soft-spoken radio presenter is travelling around the United States, interviewing children about their lives, experiences and the future, when he offers to look at after his nine-year-old nephew Jesse (Woody Norman). Jesse’s mom Viv (Gaby Hoffmann) will be out of town for a week, helping her ex-husband (Scoot McNairy) get settled in a mental health facility. When she is delayed on her return, Johnny takes the youngster on work trips to New York and New Orleans. While Johnny becomes a father figure to Jesse, his relationship with Viv deepens as the long distance, shared experience of looking after the boy brings them closer.

“C’mon C’mon” is a quiet movie that speaks volumes. It asks simple questions, like “Are you happy?” and tries, often in a roundabout way, to answer them. Jesse and Johnny’s conversations, which make up the vast bulk of the movie, are simultaneously insightful, frustrating and vulnerable. Just like real life.

As Jesse, Norman is a child wise beyond his years. He’s a fan of conspiracy theories, asks pointed questions to adults, has a vivid imagination but no friends. What he shares with his uncle is an emotional directness, even if he doesn’t completely grasp what he’s feeling and why.

Oscar winner Phoenix approaches Johnny with warmth and keeps the theatrics to a minimum. They complement one another, feeling out their relationship as they go, learning from one another. It’s lovely in its ordinariness, made all the more special by the naturalistic performances.

I don’t know if “C’mon C’mon” will become immortal, it’s a little too freeform for that, but the simple human truths it essays already are.

Comments are closed.