jackkyser’s review published on Letterboxd:
Holds up beautifully on a second viewing. A few scenes that touched me deeply: Norman asking Phoenix why he’s not married, and the way Phoenix responds by dipping in and out of the bedtime story he’s reading, ultimately admitting he doesn’t know why his last relationship ended; Phoenix’s reaction upon learning his sister had an abortion; Norman’s immense sadness upon realizing he won’t remember most of his travels with his uncle by the time he gets older.
It’s true - I don’t remember many of the specifics of the times I spent with loved ones at a young age. But I remember exactly how they made me feel, and what they meant to me in that moment. That’s what carries on.
On a formal level, this film has some of the more pleasing onscreen text-messaging I’ve seen (a device that typically doesn’t work for me, but here it’s quite elegant). The essays and books woven into the film’s fabric feel absolutely essential - I’m adding Star Child by Claire A. Nivola to my immediate reading list.
It’s so striking to see a film in which the conflict arises not from characters being cruel, but instead from people attempting to be kind and empathetic. They may struggle to relate to one another, but they’re all quick to admit their faults and do better. This is one of Phoenix’s absolute best and most natural performances.