An artist (Phoenix) left to take care of his precocious young nephew (Norman) forges an unexpected bond over a cross country trip.
Watching this trailer, I assumed that Phoenix was playing a divorced dad and that the kid was his. That gives me the expectation that this could end up being a real heartbreaking father-son story. After reading that it is actually an Uncle-Nephew relationship, my expectations definitly changed. Fair or not, the term "uncle-nephew" just has a sinister connotation to it. Thats pretty obviously not what this movie is, but the point stands.
Anyway, Phoenix is a top-5 actor in the game right now who excels in performance driven movies. Combining his skill level with the type of movies A24 distributes, which are usually marked by both performances and just arthouse vibes, and I think we are looking at a great movie. This is writer/director Mike Mills second collab with A24 after '20th Century Women, a very solid movie which earned him an Oscar nomination for best original screenplay. He's a talented guy, and I think his style matches well with Phoenix's talent.
Here is the thing: It is a black and white, small-budget family drama. That is going to turn a lot of people off, which is the nature of the beast. BUT this movie definitly wasn't meant to be watched by a ton of people, but to entertain the few that love it. For example, I really liked some of the recent Phoenix movies 'Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot'. 'You Were Never Really Here', and 'The Sisters Brothers'. But maybe 100,000 people have watched all of those movies combined.
I don't think Phoenix or the directors of those movies really care, though.
The point is, even though maybe 50 people watch this movie, but I have the feeling it is going to be a pretty damn awesome work of art. Plus, A24 does a pretty damn good job at promoting small movies like this, so maybe it will do better than those other movies I mentioned.