A touching drama about generations and human connections
Sometimes films need to be watched until the end to be fully appreciated, others manage to capture the attention of the viewers from the very first scenes, by dragging them into a story packed with meanings. In this sense, Mike Mills’ C’mon C’mon is part of the second group.
The film, debuted at Telluride in September and is now presented in the Official Selection at Rome FIlm Festival: it will hit U.S. theaters in November, but there’s no date at the moment for the rest of the world.
In the opening sequence we see a radio journalist who travels America interviewing kids, asking them about their lives and what they think of the future. His name is Johnny and we immediately understand he’s a lost soul, but with a genuine passion for his job. Everything changes when his sister Viv must leave for San Francisco, to help her ex-husband who’s on a verge of a psychological breakdown, and she asks Johnny to take care of her 9-years-old son, Jesse, for a few days: despite he has always been an absent uncle, Johnny accepts the task, taking the opportunity to get closer to this nephew that he barely knows.
From this moment on, many things happen: the few days become weeks, Johnny finds himself working as an “emergency-father”, a difficult job he knows nothing about, and Jesse understands what is like to have one (Jesse’s dad is a busy musician). Uncle and nephew gradually build a relationship of mutual support, complicity and challenge, that is heartwarming and authentic. This impromptu parenting will act also as an excuse, for Johnny, to fix his relationship with Viv, clearing up old misunderstandings, smoothing out conflicts and giving both the opportunity to really start behaving like brother and sister.
With C’mon C’mon, director Mike Mills delivers an emotional portrait of different generations looking for human connections. That’s the main theme of the film and it’s not only a matter to Johnny and Jesse (wonderfully played by veteran Joaquin Phoenix and 12-year-old Woody Norman) but to all the kids that Johnny interviews: they are all scared of loneliness, of being misunderstood or to face a world in ruins by themselves. In this black-and-white piece of art, Mills seems to suggest the only way we can save ourselves (and the world) is by getting closer to each other and talk, letting our emotions out with no fear of being judged and going bravely through pain to give meaning to our lives.
C’mon C’mon is essential, authentic and beautiful: it has the strength of a documentary and the depth of an intimate tale.