Home Graphic novel ‘C’mon C’mon’ review: Joaquin Phoenix gives up the act of clowning, gets real

‘C’mon C’mon’ review: Joaquin Phoenix gives up the act of clowning, gets real


When we last saw Joaquin Phoenix in the movies he was swinging for the fences and beyond in his Oscar winning and polarizing performance in 2019’s “Joker” and it’s hard to imagine a bigger swing of the pendulum than the warm, layered and subtle Phoenix working in “C’mon C’mon”. As Johnny, a middle-aged radio host who embarks on a uniquely American journey with his young nephew, Phoenix leaves the electric guitar and amps behind the scenes and delivers the equivalent of a silent, all-acoustic performance. .

Joker was something out of our nightmares – a grotesque monstrosity leaping from the pages of a dark graphic novel. Johnny is a handsome but awkward middle-aged man with a turtleneck and unruly hair, sitting next to you at a cafe or strolling around town for coffee. It is real.

Written and directed in docudrama style by the talented Mike Mills and filmed in dark and silent cities in black and white, “C’mon C’mon” is a combination of the story of a fractured family trying to heal and the story of American cities populated by adults who have seen and lived too much, and their children, who are still young enough and optimistic enough to have hope for their future. It is a thoughtful, poetic tale, sometimes of heartbreaking authenticity, with sweet and funny moments that help us get through the heaviest drama.

Jesse from Phoenix is ​​a New York-based radio journalist who specializes in long-form audio documentaries and city-to-city travel, lugging around his bulky, old-school, 1990s-level gear. podcaster working with a MacBook Air and lightweight mics and headphones tells you something about his personality. He behaves like someone who is not at all interested in social media or who becomes an influencer. old- fashionable journalist who wants to tell stories – the stories of others.)

Johnny has separated from his Los Angeles-based sister Viv (Gaby Hoffmann), but when he calls Viv on the first anniversary of their mother’s death and Viv tells him she has to go to Oakland to be with her troubled ex-husband. Paul (Scott McNairy) Because Paul had another depression, Johnny volunteers to care for Viv’s 9-year-old son Jesse (Woody Norman), whom he barely knows. Johnny flies to LA and moves into Viv’s house with Jesse, who is an extremely intelligent and quite strange child, for example Jesse enjoys a role-playing game in which he pretends to be an orphan interviewing a future foster parent.

“C’mon C’mon” turns into something of a road movie when Viv has to extend her stay and Johnny brings Jesse back to New York and his apartment in Chinatown, where the two unlikely roommates learn each other’s rhythms and walk through the the expected bonding moments and the inevitable confrontations and emotional traumas. (In a movie like this, you just know there’s going to be a point where Johnny loses track of Jesse in the bustling whirlwind of madness that is New York.) At one point, Johnny calls Viv and confesses. that he doesn’t know what he is. do, to which she responds, “Yeah, welcome to my fucking life.”

Viv (Gaby Hoffmann) lets Johnny take care of her son while she helps her ex-husband through a crisis.

With Johnny’s producer (Molly Webster) and her partner (Jaboukie Young-White) in tow, acting as Jesse’s surrogate aunt and uncle, the group ultimately heads to New Orleans for more interviews, and at this At that point, Jesse became like a miniature member of the crew. (He loves putting on Johnny’s big clunky headphones and wielding the boom mic like a fishing rod, picking up sounds from various cities.) Interview segments in Detroit, New York, and New Orleans feature young people talking like themselves, they talk about the challenges of being a child in 21st century in America, what they think of their parents and what they believe the future holds. (The film is dedicated to Devante Bryant, a 9-year-old who was later killed in a shootout.) Phoenix is ​​extremely effective in every detail of these scenes – ask a question or two, then just listen and be there. .

The dynamic between Phoenix and young Woody Norman (a little boy in an elder’s name) is key to this movie, and they’re great together, but never in a cutesy and acting way. We never feel like Norman is acting on camera or engaging in child-actor stage robbery. Meanwhile, Gaby Hoffmann is a wonder in one of those supporting roles that requires an actor to be on the phone for extended periods of time, playing with an invisible partner. It is a performance anchored in a work that skilfully switches between a slightly surreal journey and a realistic and grainy tale.