Luke Thorne’s review published on Letterboxd:
Mike Mills’ drama in which a radio reporter (Joaquin Phoenix) goes on a cross-country journey with his active nephew (Woody Norman) to present him life away from Los Angeles.
Director Mike Mills only treated us to two movies in the 2010s, but they were both very decent ones – Beginners (which won Christopher Plummer the Academy Award, BAFTA and Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor) and 20th Century Women (which got the director an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay).
Now, Mike’s first movie of this decade in done in black-and-white (these particular types of movies are really making a comeback) and the final product is a very decent one.
The story concerns Johnny (Joaquin Phoenix), an emotionally inhibited and softspoken radio correspondent who journeys the country talking to a number of children about their opinions thinking about their world and their future.
Then Johnny's loaded with looking after his young nephew Jesse (Woody Norman). Jesse brings a fresh standpoint and, as they make their way from state to state, efficiently turns the expressive tables on Johnny.
Joaquin Phoenix and Woody Norman both give very good performances in their respective parts as Johnny and Jesse, the radio reporter and his young nephew who are going on the adventure of a lifetime. They both suit their roles very well and the chemistry between them is nice.
Elsewhere, there are decent performances to be had from Gaby Hoffmann and Scoot McNairy in their respective roles as Viv and Paul. Viv is Johnny’s sister, while Paul is Viv’s husband who isn’t very well.
The direction from Mills is very good because he allows the facial expressions to be seen to a strong effect throughout, while also keeping a mixed atmosphere happening as well and the script is written to a decent standard by the director as he makes the movie easy to follow.
The camera stands out best in terms of the technical aspects, because it makes very good use of the locations and also captures the tense and moving moments well, which get the edge-of-the-seat status.
The only criticism I have is that the pace is a little slow at times.
Overall, despite the pacing, this is another very decent movie from Mike Mills, due to his direction and script, along with the mixed atmosphere and the very good performances from Joaquin Phoenix and Woody Norman.