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C\'mon C\'mon
 
Year : 2021
Country : United-States


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DokBrowne  [ 9.5 ]    [ add to preferred ]    [ email this review to a friend ]

There are some movies that get it so right that they don't just earn the catch-all hyperbole description of "great", but feel instantly eternal, like art that should be preserved and cherished for as long as the human race keeps puttering around in the dirt, trying to figure itself out. "C'mon C'mon" is a beautiful, poetic text that engages sublimely with our nature, bestowing self-effacement and deep compassion on our foibles. It's a parenthood story freed from strict, trite narrative shackles to just cartwheel indefinitely in contemplative reverie, an honest portrait of two fascinating strangers getting to know each other and by proxy, the viewer realizing how full and charmed and contradictory and aspirational each of us can be, like the "Before Sunrise" series but for a middle-aged guy and his young nephew.

The recurring motif of Phoenix and his crew conducting podcast interviews with children across America to elicit their perceptions of the world expands the breadth of philosophical perspective, the interplay between existential musing and trying to understand the next generation, and it plays into Mike Mills' fruitful novelty penchant for video-essay -style filmmaking. And what a complex identity this kid is allowed to have - in movies kids are always 100% precocious or quirky or adorable, but Woody Norman is a total mess, both empathetic and walled-off, manipulative and intellectually curious, needy and defensive. Mills teases out his bundle of characteristics with subdued yet perfectly accessible writing, and uses the ultimate avatar (Joaquin Phoenix, an actor unparalleled in excavating the soulful power of the modern everyman) to bounce him off of. One of the very best things about this movie is, despite all the checklisted exasperations of parenting, how involved this kid's mom Gaby Hoffmann and even new, unprepared, defacto father figure Phoenix are in nurturing his blooming identity and trying to understand each step of his behavior. These aren't checked-out guardians or helicopter parents. They're normal, tired grown-ups with their own personal problems who nonetheless take the time to observe and discuss this child's development, sharing ideas, taking their best guesses at it, being inclusive, treating him with a respect that clearly expedites his maturity. I guess everyone has their own gauge for how to raise kids, but to me this movie illustrates an ideal balance. If I had a kid, I'd hope to have the kind of relationship with them that Hoffman and Phoenix cultivate with Norman.

These three are so naturalistically plugged in to these roles that it's easy to take them for granted. Extremely rare to come across a child performance as nuanced, multi-hued and alert as Woody Norman's. Phoenix's track record at this point has become ridiculously swollen with greatness. Any other currently working male actor that I'd even try to consider among my "favorites" simply cannot compete with this guy's accomplishments anymore. And Hoffmann's been earmarked for exceptional, sophisticated character work ever since her days as an oddball kid in "Sleepless in Seattle" and on through the peculiar choices she's made throughout her career, but still it's wonderful to watch her casually go toe-to-toe with someone like Phoenix and create her own unforgettable side of this film's indelible triangle.

Black-and-white is trending among the "artist" directors these days, and here again it serves purposeful impact, in this case as a heavy mood, along with the quiet tone and rich audio texture (in the editing of dialogue over different scenes like a montage and in hearing Phoenix's recording equipment used by Norman to amplify certain moments). There's just so much about the movie to marvel at... I'm unqualified to account for it all in writing, so I'll just quit now. Bottom line, I think I've found another spirit animal for my innermost circle of favorites. I think it belongs to the holy lineage of 21st century American cinema that finds profound truths about the bittersweet ineffability of modern life - "Lost in Translation", "Eternal Sunshine", "Her". Gotta make a list of those one of these days.

 
Weighted Rating : 7.2
No. Ratings : 1
No. Reviews : 1


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Ranked by Rating
 
2021 2
2020's 3
All-time 1815



Ranked by No. Ratings
 
2021 10
2020's 17
All-time 7819
 


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