C’MON C’MON – Review by Susan Granger

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Writer/director Mike Mills’ turbulent new family melodrama delves into the trials and tribulations of parenthood, encompassing its inherent joys and overwhelming responsibilities, including choosing between self-interest and caring for a child.

Living in a small Chinatown apartment, Johnny (Joaquin Phoenix) is a New York radio journalist heading a small team of interviewers who travel around the country asking young people probing questions about their aspirations, what they think of the world around them, their uncertainties and what needs to change.

When his estranged sister Viv (Gaby Hoffman) must cope with a mental health crisis involving her bipolar husband (Scoot McNairy), Johnny flies to Los Angeles to care for Jesse (Woody Norman), her imaginative, precociously perceptive nine-year-old son.

Having absorbed Viv’s self-help exercises and vocabulary, vulnerable Jesse has been taught to express his feelings openly, leading to insightful cross-generational communication.

The bittersweet plot revolves around the transformation that happens when Johnny, who’s single and has no children, steps into the avuncular role.

Inspired by his own parenting experiences with filmmaker Miranda July (Kajillionaire), Mike Mills shot the script in sequence, working with Irish cinematographer Robbie Ryan to film in luminous black-and-white, tracing how Johnny and Jesse bond – with music by Bryce and Aaron Dessner of The National.

Previously in Beginners, Mills explored his poignant relationship with his father who came out late in life, and in 20th Century Women he recalled his mother and sister who raised him.

Bearded and considerably heavier than he was as the Oscar-winning Joker, Joaquin Phoenix delivers a quiet, gently thoughtful, emotionally satisfying performance, while British newcomer Woody Norman masters an authentic American accent.

FYI: One of the young people interviewed is Devante “D-Man” Bryant, a nine year-old who was later killed in a shooting and to whom the film is dedicated.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, C’mon C’mon is a sensitive, stylistic, soft-spoken 7, streaming on Prime Video.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.