Film review: “C’Mon, C’Mon” is a contemplative and winning work on family ties and borders
Writer / Director Mike Mills is a solid filmmaker who always seems to think he needs a bit of gimmick in his storytelling to make it interesting. Guess if you watch it all the movies have gimmicks in it, but Mills gimmicks tend to look a bit more. With Bug, the gadget treated thumb sucking as an addiction; in Beginnersit was the older gay father and the adult child who were trying to understand this late development; and with 20th century women, they were hippies (it’s the only one of those three movies that I didn’t like). Having a gadget doesn’t automatically mean the movie is bad, but it sometimes lessens the impact the movie is trying to make.
With Mills’ latest work, go! Go on, the only real gimmick is the black and white film, which is a gimmick that I fully approve of (watch the current version Belfast and the next one Macbeth’s tragedy for recent examples of the variety and beauty of B&W). I’m not quite sure go! Go on is even better a film by being devoid of color, but it emphasizes the timeless quality of its story about testing the limits of family ties. In one of his most charming (dare I say normal?) Roles his son Jesse (a formidable Woody Norman) when Viv’s husband Paul (Scoot McNairy) suffers a mental collapse from bipolar disorder and about his decision to stop taking his medication.
The project Johnny is working on involves interviewing kids Jesse’s age and a little older about their feelings about the state of the nation and what the future might hold for them, and the job requires him to travel. from the west coast to New York and New Orleans. wherever they have lined up talks. Viv needs Johnny to take care of Jesse while she helps Paul in the Bay Area where he has just taken a new job with a local symphony orchestra and is going through a crisis while adjusting to the new setting. The only way this arrangement works is if Johnny can bring Jesse on the road with him, and Viv reluctantly agrees, especially since she and Johnny have been apart for some time before this moment.
While there are more contrived and expected dramatic moments in go! Go on, like Johnny briefly losing Jesse in New York City, the best parts of the movie are just listening to people talking to each other. We are treated to a great number of interviews with Johnny, and they are informative and sometimes difficult to listen to, as young people express everything from worry to genuine distress about the world and its direction. But just seeing his nephew and uncle start to bond is fascinating. Jesse considers these trips with his uncle to be adventurous, but like any child he begins to miss his mother, who continues to extend his time with Paul. Johnny finds ways to involve Jesse by allowing him to play around and experiment with his audio recording equipment, and soon they even start working together. We also get snippets of what looks like Johnny’s audio diary, in which he reveals how deeply lost he feels after recently breaking up with a longtime partner. But even these sad memories open up the rest of Johnny’s life and state of mind, and it allows us to understand his thought process in an unconventional way.
Which makes go! Go on such a winning and contemplative work is his portrayal of an unconventional family (although perhaps nowadays the unconventional has become the conventional) who come together in a crisis with the understanding that all that separated them will be. dealt with subsequently. Even when the going gets tough, non-sentimental affection shines through, and in the context of children worried about the world we live in, this family’s story gives us hope. The film is lived in and comfortable, which makes it easy to slip on and just be a part of it. The stakes may be low, but it doesn’t all have to be traumatic or change the world. It’s just a beautiful story, deceptively simple, performed by an excellent cast, working with Mills’ best screenplay to date.
go! Go on is now playing in select theaters.
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