It’s been a while since we’ve had a buzzy Joaquin Phoenix vehicle to talk about that is not Joker. That is, until the release of C’mon C’mon. Mike Mills wrote and directed the film, which tells the story of a radio journalist named Johnny who must suddenly look after his 9-year-old nephew Jesse, and forms an unexpected yet important father-son type of bond during the course of a road trip.
In true Mills fashion, and according to the trailer, C’mon C’mon is a coming-of-age drama with a voiceover that chronicles both the vastness and the mundanity of the human experience. It’s melancholy enough, with the added bonus of being shot on black-and-white film (the cinematographer employed here is Robbie Ryan, the same cinematographer who worked on Marriage Story). Phoenix plays the uncle, Johnny to Woody Norman’s Jesse, and Gaby Hoffman plays Johnny’s sister Viv. There’s even an appearance in the film from comedian Jaboukie Young-White, who is now fully in his movie star era. Scoot McNairy has a role in the film as well.
C’mon C’mon is the second film by Mills to be distributed by A24 (following his 2016 film 20th Century Women starring Lucas Jade Zumann, Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, and Greta Gerwig). It premiered at Telluride Film Festival in Colorado to critical acclaim, but will get a wider release later this fall.
The emotional territory of the film—fatherhood, living in precarious times, and so on—is likely on par with the actual musings of Phoenix in real-life. Not only does the actor pride himself on taking up environmentalist causes and addressing the precariousness of our own world (his character is a radio journalist who often interviews people about their perspective on the matter), he also recently became a father. Last September he and his partner Rooney Mara announced the birth of their son, River, in honor of his late brother.