In Mike Mills’ “C’mon C’mon,” Joaquin Phoenix plays a New York-based radio journalist who, throughout the movie, records interviews with real kids about their lives, asking them questions like, “What scares you?” and “What makes you happy?”
During the film’s making, Mills would schedule the interviews sporadically, often at the end of a day of shooting.
“It was a constant reminder of what being genuine was in front of the camera, to really be authentic,” Phoenix says. “They just were.”
“It kind of changed the chemistry all the way through,” says Mills. “All films should have to do that.”
Moments of documentary make cameos in “C’mon C’mon,” but the entire film pulses with something tenderly close to real life. The performances are loose and often improvised. The story, of an uncle (Phoenix) thrust into parenting his sister’s 9-year-old son (Woody Norman), was inspired by Mills’ relationship with his own child, Hopper.