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C’mon C’mon

Joaquin Phoenix is Johnny, a radio journalist who is currently on a project involving travel to cities around the US to interview kids about their lives and what they hope for the future. He finds himself taking care of his quirky and precocious nephew Jesse (a sensational Woody Norman), the son of his sister with whom he has had an estranged relationship after their mother died. Johnny travels to New York City and then to New Orleans with his nephew. This is one of my favorite films of the year. It is a story of complex worlds adults occupy and the children who have things to say but are never really heard. The interviews, which I assumed were not scripted, provide a wonderful counterbalance to the story of how Johnny learns about parenting and what it takes to be a real listener of Jesse’s needs: At one moment he is the observer, and the next he is the observed as he tries to navigate the “real world” with a child. Through their travels together, Johnny and Jesse each transform as part of their process of developing a relationship. What makes the movie work most is the superb acting by Gabby Hoffman (Jesse’s mom), Phoenix and Norman, and the wonderful chemistry between the uncle and nephew. I loved the score (I wish there had been more!) as well as the use of black and white that seems to help keep the film focus on the essentials and gives it a wispy feel that counters the serious themes of the film. The film is also a dedication to moms everywhere. The film is beautiful to watch, and the development of the story is beautifully told; it is understated and wise. Big thumbs up from me. (2021; 5 Stars).

About Gary Burkholder

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