|Me and You and Everyone We Know
2005 - R - 91 Mins.
|Director: Miranda July
|Producer: Gina Kwon
|Written By: Miranda July
|Starring: John Hawkes,
|Review by: Greg Ursic
|Official Site: http://www.meandyoumovie.com/
After separating from his wife, Richard (John Hawkes) is having trouble coming to grips with the breakup of his marriage and the overwhelming responsibilities of single parenthood. He struggles to relate to and care for his sons, seven year-old son Robby, who has discovered the expansive online world and fourteen year-old Peter, who’s getting to “know” some of his classmates, but despite Richard's best efforts he makes few inroads. His life is further complicated by the affections of Christine (Miranda July), the Eldercab driver/performance artist who has developed a crush on him. Welcome to dysfunction junction.
Me and me and me, or writer, director and star!
In May 2005, Me and You and Everyone We Know enjoyed the distinction of being the first film directed by a woman to open the Seattle International Film Festival in its 31-year history. It proved to be a wise choice: July, who wrote, directed and starred in the film, left the festival for a “family emergency” the following day and everyone assumed the worst. As it turned out, she had to rush back to Cannes to accept the Camera D’or, the award for the Best First Feature by a Director. The downside is that I missed my interview with July. Maybe next year…
July’s film is one of those unique efforts that refuses to fit neatly into any genre: her wonderfully fanciful study of fractured lives and people desperately in search of an emotional connect is equal parts romantic-comedy, drama and stream of consciousness filmmaking. I was captivated from the outset by the cool-stunt-gone-wrong (it must be seen to be understood) as it made me flashback to the time my cousin tried to show me the same trick (and with similar results). It serves as an interesting entre into a story that smoothly segues from the sublime to surreal to silly, without a misstep. Thankfully the cast is up to the challenge
I originally had my doubts about John Hawkes (Deadwood, The Perfect Storm) - when you think “romantic lead” he’s definitely not the first person that comes to mind. However, given the film’s non-traditional bent, his casting makes perfect sense. Hawkes captures the essence of someone who’s struggling to get by, nevermind wade into the dating pool. July, meanwhile, oozes energy as the unrepentantly upbeat Christine, a whirling dervish of spontaneity (from what I gather, it’s not a stretch from the real person). They share remarkable onscreen chemistry, which translates into some of the best exchanges I’ve seen in a long time - the discussion they engage in as they walk down the street is cinematic poetry. The supporting cast also turns in remarkable performances.
Brandon Ratcliff, is hilarious as Robby, the youngest son. It would be easy to dismiss him as merely precocious, were it not for his impeccable timing and a self-assurance seldom seen among actors his age. Equally impressive is Carlie Westerman who plays Sylvie the 10 year-old next door - an old soul, she spends her time planning what kind of décor she’ll have when she’s married while her friends are engrossed in hopscotch and playing with Dollies. Westerman demonstrates the same kind of preternatural maturity as Dakota Fanning, if not quite as polished.
You and Me and Everyone We Know takes a distinctly different approach to relationships. July’s effort is both serious and amusing and she skillfully manipulates the audience most notably in her handling of plot elements that deal with several of the characters flirtation with budding sexuality: just as the story is set to venture into darker territory, she pulls back and injects a dose of carefully timed playfulness.
If you’re tired of brainless blockbusters that fail to deliver, get yourself to the local Arthouse theater and see this film. And bring a friend.