Directed by Mike Mills, ‘C’mon C’mon’ is a black-and-white film that centers around the relationship between Johnny and his nephew Jesse. From Los Angeles, both of them start a heartening journey that introduces Jesse to the world beyond his city. As their cross-country trip progresses, Johnny and Jesse gradually nurture a touching bond between them. In the absence of Jesse’s parents, Johnny listens to his concerns and fears. As the drama film offers an affecting experience, one must be wondering whether the film’s roots are in real lives and incidents. If that’s the case, here’s everything you need to know!
Is C’mon C’mon Based on a True Story?
‘C’mon C’mon’ is partially based on a true story. The sense of reality that emanates from the film is not accidental. The tearjerker is heavily inspired by director Mike Mills’ relationship with his son. “So [C’mon C’mon] really started just [as] the very soft but powerful intimacy that you have with your kid, that I have with my real kid, and then the world of kids that my being a father introduced me to,” Mills said to Collider.
From his experience as a father, the director conceived the touching relationship between Jesse and the father figure he finds in Johnny. “I wouldn’t have done this film at all, at all, if I wasn’t a dad and seen not just my kid, but other kids, and what happened with my partner becoming a mom. And there are many moments that are very much out of Hopper and I’s life… So there are a lot of things that come from us. But then I write them, right, and the writing stretches from that reality and becomes its own thing,” Mills explained to GQ.
The interviews Johnny conducts with children about their lives and future are inspired by Mills’ time as an interviewer for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The director interviewed numerous children, whose parents worked in prominent tech companies, about the future. According to Mills, the interviews Joaquin Phoenix‘s Johnny conducts with real children connect the fiction of the film with reality. “I never wanted to use these real kids’ lives to help my plot between my two fictional characters progress. I wanted it to be setting. “Psychic child setting” or “kid perspective on the world” as a landscape that my two characters walk through,” he added to Collider.
Within its fictional framework, Mills’ film sincerely depicts a child’s internal world through the character of Jesse. His concerns regarding his father and the fear of the future he expresses are soul-stirring and true to life. Mills’ emphasis on the need for sensible conversations with children led him to conceive Johnny’s interviews with real children. Just like Jesse’s worries, their answers to Johnny’s questions are thought-provoking and significant to the film’s fictitious narrative.
Through the film, Mills is reminding the need for intimacy and connection one should have with children. “To me, the heart of this movie is giving the kid a bath. That’s at the core. All the intimacy, all the interpersonal richness that can happen in this very intimate space. Very small. Something a film, usually, doesn’t think is important enough to film. That’s the core,” he said to AV Club. The fiction in ‘C’mon C’mon’ connects with real-life through these reminders. Rather than attempting to reconstruct reality, Mills uses fiction’s advantages to portray how reality should be.
Read More: Where Was C’mon C’mon Filmed?