Want to know the fastest way one could possibly convince me to see a movie? Just tell me that it’s an A24 film starring Joaquin Phoenix. This dream pairing of my all-time favorite production studio and my all-time favorite actor was destined for the spotlight. Well, at least it was destined for the spotlight among critics. Alas, not everybody cares about that specific avenue within the panorama of cinema. C’mon C’mon is a warm and gentle drama, a colorful depiction of the raw beauty of life which is (in some ways ironically) filtered through a black-and-white lens. And who wouldn’t want to see Phoenix dabbling outside his typical acting caricature?

More specifically, Phoenix plays a radio journalist, Johnny, who embarks upon a road trip across the country alongside his 8-year-old nephew—with Johnny tending to a project in which he interviews children about our world’s “uncertain future” in the process. But it’s not all fun and games. There’s a range of interpersonal issues surrounding the plot. Alas, Phoenix absorbs the focus, providing a consummate performance supplemented by a palette of artistic film components: sharp cinematography, a neat score, feel-good storytelling, etc. Phoenix—whom I consider the greatest actor ever in terms of playing dark, troubled characters—shines with an effortlessness combined with a new shade in the array of roles he has played that make it easy to buy into the cast and the story.

Ultimately, there is a sense of simplicity to this film that contrasts so greatly with that of most Phoenix and A24 films. Yet with this comes a reality that C’mon C’mon isn’t one of the transcendent films that defy the bold arrow of time (not that any film is obligated to pursue that). Like I said earlier, C’mon C’mon isn’t devoid of conflict. You feel the human struggle of people struggling to relate to people—as a family in crisis finds itself gradually stitched together through both extravagant and seemingly banal moments via a screenplay that quietly wonders about the entire planet. Still, I only saw this because it features my favorite actor. I wish it debuted in the spring. But in the face of a truly ludicrous amount of commendable and dazzling works in theaters right now, I only suggest this film to fans of Joaquin and/or the indie brushstroke for which A24 has swiftly amassed a shockingly prolific résumé.

Rating: 7.5/10