Within the first few moments of speaking with writer-director Mike Mills, you vibe with his calm energy and gentle spirit, therefore making it a very soul enriching experience to have during an interview. This feeling isn’t strange to most who have seen his films, as Mills has been making audiences feel this way over the last sixteen years since his debut feature Thumbsucker. In taking time between his debut and his next three projects, he was able to find distinct connections that span into grand ideas about not just the world his character inhabits, but our modern culture and society.
Films like Beginners and 20th Century Women are, respectively, pieces of art used as an ode to his father and mother. The former earned massive acclaim, including the late Christopher Plummer’s Oscar win for Best Supporting Actor. The latter was hailed as one of the best films of the last decade and landed Mills his first Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. But it is his latest film, C’mon C’mon, that finds him examining new territory, as Mills is making a film about a new family member, his relationship with his child, thus his most personal film to date. Within C’mon C’mon, we follow a journalist named Johnny (Joaquin Phoenix) and his precocious nephew Jesse (Woody Norman) as their bond grows while Jesse’s mom Viv (Gaby Hoffman) is tending to the needs of Jesse’s struggling father (Scoot McNairy). Built within this simple narrative lies some of the most honest screenwriting of the year as Mills is able to balance this familial dynamic as well as the difficult themes he suggests about humanities future and how unsure our world is, with no solutions in sight.
From talking with him, he is someone who cares deeply about his craft, and the connection his work has with audiences across the world. In doing so, he understands the human soul better than anyone working today in film right now. C’mon C’mon is, as stated in our review, “the best film of his career” and “crafts one of the best screenplays of the last ten to fifteen years.” In my conversation with the writer-director, Mills spoke about his creative process, his inspirations for the film, and tells stories and antidotes of his cast, including the relationship between the veteran actor, Joaquin Phoenixm and the newcomer of the year, Woody Norman.
Take a listen to the full interview below.
C’mon C’mon is currently playing only in theaters from A24.