Sunday, December 26, 2021

C'MON C'MON*****

Mike Mills (20th CENTURY WOMEN) returns to our screens with the beautifully shot and acted drama that's ostensibly a bonding road-trip between an uncle and his nephew, but is actually a hymn to single mums everywhere. It stars Joaquin Phoenix (JOKER) as Jonny - a wonderfully empathetic, rumpled, charmingly vulnerable radio journalist whose job is to travel America and listen to teenagers describe their struggles and joys in life. He transfers all those brilliant listening skills to taking care of his young nephew Jesse, played in one of the performances of the year by Woody Norman (THE CURRENT WAR).  Jesse is a really sweet, smart kid being raised as such by his brilliantly loving and strong mother Viv (Gaby Hoffman - Transparent). Viv and Jonny clearly love each other but drifted apart after their mother's death. But they reconnect when Viv needs her brother to help out because she has to take care of her ex-parter Paul (Scoot McNairy - IN SEARCH OF A MIDNIGHT KISS) who is suffering through an acute episode of bipolar disorder. 

The resulting film speaks to the fears and joys of parenthood, and feels so real in its depiction of authentic family relationships. I loved every moment of it and feel as if I know the characters intimately. It never strays into mawkish predictability and handles its topic of mental health with sensitivity.  The superlative acting and writing is matched by DP Robbie Ryan's stunning black and white photography:  LA and Manhattan haven't looked as beautiful in years. 

C'MON C'MON played Telluride and the BFI London Film Festival 2021. It has a running time of 109 minutes and is rated R.

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