Like Mills’ recent films, this is a story of atypical families and parental connection, with an emotionally distant radio journalist (Phoenix) forced to care for his young nephew (Woodman) when his sister is called away.
That Jesse will eventually crack Johnny’s breezy, unengaged façade during an impromptu road trip to New Orleans is completely predictable. But as ever, it’s Mills’ acute observations of the dynamics between people, and the sheer depth of onscreen feeling that make C’mon C’mon such a triumph.
Carried by lustrous black and white photography, a great evocation of New York, and Johnny’s touching interviews with young people discussing their hopes for the future, this is one of the year’s most essential, moving films.
And Phoenix, who has an electric dynamic with Woodman here, has perhaps never been better, delivering the opposite kind of performance to his Oscar-winning turn in Joker, with tear-jerking results.