A24‘s latest film is one that seems to particularly hit home, especially given everything that we’ve been through over the past two years. C’mon C’mon is a meditation on humanity, growing, learning and so much more.

Written and directed by Mike Mills, the film stars Joaquin Phoenix, Gaby Hoffmann and Woody Norman.

The film centers on Johnny (Phoenix) and his young nephew Jesse (Norman), who “forge a tenuous but transformational relationship when they are unexpectedly thrown together in this delicate and deeply moving story about the connections between adults and children, the past and the future.” Hoffmann plays Johnny’s sister and Jesse’s mother.

Shadow and Act recently spoke with Mills and Hoffmann about the project. Mills said being a father was a huge influence on the film. “All the things that come into your life when you try to take care of another little person and how complicated, but totally joyous it is, but very challenging and very meaningful,” he said. “That space…a just super intimate space of giving someone a bath and talking about life and realizing that it’s so small, so intimate and so contactful and yet all the biggest issues are there with that. What’s going to happen in the future, your relationship to other people, capitalism, the society, it’s all in the tub with you. That’s where it started.”

A lot of Hoffmann’s scenes are set via phone with Phoenix, something the actress spoke to us about in detail.

“We shot the movie in sequential order, so Joaquin and I had shot together a lot,” she explained. “We’d shot almost all of our stuff that we have together, except the very end, right upfront. We had already sort of established a lot in in person together. There was a lot there between us to work with just organically and then, obviously with all this beautiful writing. Then we actually were on the phone with each other each and every time. So if the camera was on me, Joaquin was either in another room or in a van or home somewhere, but being recorded, and then vice versa. So they felt very much like real scenes. Because we’d already gotten to know each other as actors and as these characters in real life, it was easy to just translate that to the phone calls and yeah, they were fun.”

Aside from the narrative of Johnny’s relationship with his nephew and sister, the film also interpolates real-life interviews with kids as they discuss the state of the world. The interviews are featured as a part of the storyline too as Johnny travels with his team across the country to conduct them.

“Those kids are kids that Kaari Pitkin, an amazing radio producer who does Radio Rookies, helped us find They often came from really interesting schools like the Boggs School in Detroit or Homer Plessy School in New Orleans. It had such a huge impact on the whole filmmaking process,” Mills explained. “Having these people who aren’t from the film world that we thought so much about how to treat respectfully and kindly and not be an imposition on their life or not manipulate or tweak them out… That’s a great mindset to just sort of be in all the time. Then it was really important for me that they didn’t just like service the narrative part of the movie. They didn’t just support the narrative. I wanted them to be kind of like their own film a little bit.”

C’mon Cmon is in theaters now. Watch the full interview below: