I often find that when I allow myself the time and patience to watch contemporary black and white cinema, it can act as a palette cleanser for the senses, rewarding patience by allowing you to extract whatever you truly need to find from a film at that moment.
'C'mon C'mon' is gentle and attentive, and isn't afraid to delicately wander through its almost two hour run time (which absolutely flies by). It captures the personality and crevices of each of the cities it enters, but simultaneously maintains an intimacy within these settings to portray a palpably real relationship between an uncle and his nephew. I've always been a big fan of Mike Mills work - Beginners, 20th Century Women, this film and his short film to accompany The National's ' 'I Am Easy to Find' (attached below) - are all stylistically distinct, feeling sparse and almost Nordic (at the very least in its production design).
I find it hard to absorb this film, without placing it within the context of the current chaos that we live in, with its constant fatalistic rhetoric. A film such as this is crucial to remind the audience of the sensitivity and observant intellect of children when they are allowed the space to speak and be heard, and how much we have to learn from allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and open as they are. Phoenix's character records children talking for a living, yet cannot find time to talk to his own family, and struggles with miscommunication throughout, Overheard discussions with his sister about limiting his nephew's 'screen time' cannot be coincidental.
I love films like this that remind us, without veering into didactics, how we can learn from the simplicity of children, and a more kind and uncomplicated attitude towards others. As children, we are taught what is right and wrong, or good or bad, and while it is always good to question why we have been taught certain ideals, it is equally crucial to track down the source of what we truly believe in through these basic teachings.
If you like this, watch:
Mike Mills directed this poignant short film to accompany a sample of songs from The National's album 'I Am Easy To Find'. Starring Alicia Vikander, it left me reeling, and is a thoroughly powerful piece.