This film was previously reviewed in October 2021 as part of our New York Film Festival coverage.

C’mon C’mon is writer-director Mike Mills’ tender, bittersweet coming-of-age docudrama that continues to manifest his profoundly personal contemplations on motherhood, childhood, and the mystery of interpersonal connections. Shot in soothing, effervescent monochrome, the film is also a love letter to the most culturally rich cities in America and the beautiful humanities within. Mirroring the future generation’s unfiltered wisdom, Mills’ refreshing humility and deep curiosity permeate every frame anchored by one of the best duo-performances in years.

The film chronicles radio journalist Johnny (Joaquin Phoenix)’s cross-country trip accompanied by his mesmerisingly weird nephew Jesse (Woody Norman), during which Johnny interviews school-age children in America and records their thoughts and concerns about the world we live in. While these interviews are conducted with children in real life, Mills incorporates the footage into Johnny and Jesse’s self-healing journey, where their dialogues bring out universal themes of angst and hope. Measuring up to Phoenix’s nuanced profiling of Johnny’s layered introversion, Norman portrays the sensitive and perceptive Jesse with extremely high levels of intelligence and intuitiveness.

Opting for a minimalistic narrative, Mills foregrounds the audiovisual aspects of cinematic storytelling. The film’s black-and-white aesthetic constructs a pseudo-fantasy world in parallel with the hustle and bustle of everyday life. This world-building serves a self-reflexive function that draws us into Johnny and Jesse’s free-flowing inquiries into relationships, traumas, and death. In turn, it shows us the wonders of their intellectual exchange and mutual understanding despite age and experience – a rare open-mindedness that seems to only have existed in an alternate reality.

The film’s sound design stands out as it renders the children’s voices intimate and versatile. “C’mon, c’mon.” This calling is laced with melancholy, relief, and a hard-earned sense of optimism, echoing Mills’ inner child and his tireless kindness towards a cruel world.



CAST: Joaquin Phoenix, Woody Norman, Gaby Hoffmann

DIRECTOR: Mike Mills

WRITER: Mike Mills

SYNOPSIS: A radio journalist embarks on an all-American journey with his nephew.