Review: Joaquin Phoenix delivers outstanding performance in ‘C’mon C’mon’

Photo courtesy of IMDb

By Clay Thompson | Intern

I never thought I’d so soon see Joaquin Phoenix act better than in “Joker,” but I was dead wrong. In this nuanced and profound performance by Phoenix and breakout child star Woody Norman, audiences can expect to see a family coming back together and a beautiful bond form between uncle and nephew.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the film is its strictly black-and-white color scheme. I’m not exactly sure why that decision was made, but it definitely adds to the movie. Since the color scheme drains the scenes of color, audiences are forced to direct their attention to the main characters speaking and interacting, instead of being distracted from their often controlled performances. While the rest of the busy world goes on around them, this often leads to audiences seeing monumental moments of character development in the film as they are meant to be seen.

The movie’s main focus is on the human connections we can all make if we try, whether that be with strangers or with family. The film also touches upon mental health issues in a nuanced way. I don’t want to spoil the plot so I’ll pretty much leave it at that, but I think the film does a spectacular job of portraying and addressing it personally.

Other than Phoenix, the breakout star of this film is definitely Woody Norman. At 11 years old, he is giving such a natural and talented performance, it really doesn’t feel like acting. His interactions with Phoenix feel real and as a film viewer, his experiences with life, and even his more unlikable qualities, added to him as a real and flawed character. He was truly a kid who was struggling to cope with his unique family situation and that hurt and confusion and anger can be seen throughout the film manifesting in different, nuanced and creative ways.

When the film finally hits climax, I actually cried. I take this to mean this movie is amazing personally, because I usually never cry at movies. The emotional aspect present in the film feels so real and genuine, it reminded me of the emotion portrayed in Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story.” The emotions are raw, unfiltered and feel as if they were real people without a camera on them. Their frustrations with life, the future and even with each other at times makes the audience uncomfortable and understanding in the best ways possible. The film really hammers home the theme that life is messy, and we are all just trying to navigate it the best ways we can, the best ways we know how to and hope and pray that the future will be brighter.

Overall, if you choose to see one indie or non-blockbuster movie this season, “C’mon C’mon” is a must watch. It is one of those rare films that you have to see before you die that will leave you both parts emotionally drained, and filled with profoundness.