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Miranda July's "Me and You and Everyone We Know" might be the most
miraculous first fiction feature by an American in 3 or 4 years; it's
rivaled only by Andrew Bujalski's "Funny Ha Ha." Christine (July)
stalks the recently separated Richard (John Hawkes), who would try
anything to impress his kids, and gets third degree burns for his
trouble. His elder son, Peter (Miles Thompson) longs for connections
that go beyond instant gratification, while the younger Robby (Brandon
Ratcliff) gets all the funniest lines, mostly copied and pasted from
"Me and You" is about the act of pretending and about performance as life, but first of all it's about extremely likable characters played by likable actors, foremost among them July herself, whose Carole Lombard-meets-Laurie Anderson deep ditz may be a complex stack of masks upon masks, but is more likely just the way she is.
The movie is notable for what isn't in it - both malice and pain are almost absent. Removing malice - July's world is one in which a kid can safely walk alone through some seedy parts of Los Angeles - is unfashionable, brave and, given the gentle tone of the piece, necessary. But the absence of pain isn't intentional: July would like us to feel the loneliness of the characters. But their isolation is more a trait of their personalities than a source of suffering. In this respect, the movie is perhaps too glossy for its own good. There's one excellent exception, revolving around a granddaughter's photo by an elderly woman's bedside, which becomes a substitute for a shared life that dissolved too soon.
The scene that everyone picks out is the walk to Tyrone Street. Richard and Christine decide the walk to the intersection will stand in for the relationship they're not having: first the unrelieved joy of being together, then the getting bored with each other, then the fighting and the split. Only they keep chatting flirtily, about whether the walk represents a year and a half or twenty, until they get to the corner, and then we wonder how they can possibly go their separate ways. Although this is as great as anything in the first 75 minutes of "Before Sunset," its emphasis is much more on romantic comedy than the rest of the movie. There are more typical scenes that approach this quality. A goldfish on the roof of a car. A child running his fingers through a woman's hair. A picture of a bird in a tree, in a tree. And the ending, where it seems human actions are motivating the sunrise.
The scene I consider the finest is a quiet one: Sylvie (Carlie Westerman), a tween spending her childhood preparing for life as a homemaker, gets a gift from Peter: a plush bird. ("It's for your daughter.") It would be unusual merely for depicting a platonic friendship between kids of different genders and different ages. But it's remarkable for crystallizing what it seems every filmmaker is trying to say these days: that there's something to be gained from thinking like a child. Through July's lens, it doesn't seem like a regression: no redundant literalization of fantasy is necessary. The achievement of "Me and You and Everyone We Know" is to show how the mundane moments of our lives can be mundanely transformed by imagination.
I just saw this film in Cannes, and Miranda July just won the Camera D'Or for best first feature. I think the jurors were right on for giving this film an award. It's a simple film that creates identifiable and likable characters that are all loosely connected. I suppose there is one central story line, but the film's strength lies in the individual scenes and interactions between these characters. July successfully depicts the innocence of childhood, the sexual curiosity of teenagers, and the complex emotions of adulthood through personal and original stories and situations. I don't want to give a lot away but simply recommend anyone reading this to at least give it a shot. You'll either love it or hate it, but I think the majority of you will love it.
I had the good fortune to see this film last night at a Sundance Film Festival screening in Salt Lake City. Having viewed a few of Miranda July's shorts on her website), I hoped this film would live up to the level set there. It does. July plays the lead character in what turns out to be an ensemble of people, each with his/her own quirks, who are somehow linked together (most simply by being neighbors). This movie is made up of what might be a string of perfect little short films. Each scene builds on the previous scene, adding one more enticing facet to a personality; one more little twist to a story. By the final scene, each character has as much depth and complexity as some of the real people we know. Indeed, one might wish that everyone was as interesting as the characters in this film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Miranda July's "Me and You and Everyone we Know" was a surprise. It
shows a new director with an inquisitive mind who doesn't get scared of
tackling important issues. Ms. July shows a light touch to this story
about the life of people trying to connect in this complex world we are
The center of the story focuses on Richard, a shoe salesman, who one sees at the beginning of the film in the process of separation from his black wife. He will keep the children, the teen age Peter, and the younger Robby. Little prepares him in the way his life will have to adjust with the new responsibilities. We don't get to see why the couple is splitting; they evidently fell out of love and she has decided to move on, while Richard is still trying to understand what happened to him.
The two boys are left to fend for themselves most of the time. As children will be children, they get involved in chatting on line. The exchange between Robby and his correspondent is hilarious. The young boy is way too wise for his young years. He is a city slicker and knows how to deal with the situation of the possible pedophile stalking him. At the end we get to realize who the person that has been chatting with him really is.
On a separate vignette we see Christine, a woman who does videos where she is the subject and the principal character. Christine also runs a car service for senior citizens in her area, but we mostly see her driving her old grandfather. Christine sees Richard at the store and she can't keep her eyes from him. Evidently it's love at first sight with the reluctant Richard.
One of the two other chapters in the film involves two aggressive and precocious teen age girls who go after one of Richard's co-workers who live in the neighborhood. And in the second we meet the lonely girl who loves to shop for the dowry that she will eventually have for when she gets married. She is a sad little girl who obviously lives in her own world without sharing anything with friends and neighbors.
The final film of the movie seems to be the key for understanding what is behind all what Ms. July has presented to us, so far. There is a man waiting at a bus stop tapping a coin against a side pole. Little Robbie who has had, almost what could have been a horrible experience, stands by this fellow and asks what is he doing. The answer: passing time, which seems to fit all the situations we have witnessed in the film.
The best thing of the movie is John Hawkes. He is a no nonsense actor that contributes enormously to the mood and all what we have seen in the film. Miranda July is also appealing as the lonely and quirky woman looking to fulfill her life with someone she can give her boundless energy and love. The two boys, Miles Thompson and Brandon Ratcliff are delightful to watch because they are normal kids and not the stereotypes one watches in main stream features.
Ms. July is a new voice to be reckoned with.
i had the supreme pleasure of seeing this film last night as the grand
opener of the seattle international film festival. (this was the first
time in the 31 year span of the festival that the opener was directed
by a woman!) i loved it! contrary to some previous comments, i found
the writing and the approach to the subject matter very adult. a less
mature screenwriter could have too easily fallen into a dour and
pessimistic mood given the subject matter, especially the instances of
desires pedophilia and families torn apart. i think it takes a
remarkable, mature writer and director to take these themes and turn
them into a heart-warming piece of work rather than just another
fatalistic, world-hating film.
the performances were stellar across the board. every character was completely fleshed out and truly human. i think that's what struck me the most about this film, the complete humanity of it. the title is apt, it really is a universal story of you and me and everyone we know. the comedy didn't have to be forced, it was funny because we could all identify and sympathize with the awkwardness of life.
i'd love to see more out of miranda july to this caliber. this was a huge feat for a first feature, but i have a lot of hope and faith in her talents for the future.
Much lighter and brighter than Todd Solondz chilling yet profoundly
human film 'Happiness.' I felt they were similar in that they explored
the strange things people do and say and the believable motivation
behind them. Christine (reminiscent of Maggie Gyllenhaal) is a detached
yet thoughtful artist who longs for romance and love. Richard is a
lonely single father struggling to understand where his life is going
after a recent separation.
The kids (who are each some of the best parts of this film) are caught up in an adult world figuring out who they are and where they fit in. This is an enjoyable dark comedy that had the crowd laughing at some parts and gasping at others. I left the theater satisfied and smiling.
This movie is about people trying to connect with each other, told in a
very sweet, original way. It is quirky, beautiful, honest, and
hilarious. The film follows the lives and dreams of many truly
memorable characters, from the adorable and fascinating children to the
adults with all their idiosyncrasies. I couldn't stop thinking about it
the day after I saw it. I kept reliving the scenes in my head, and
I am so happy to have discovered Miranda July. Not only did she write, direct, and star in this film... she is also a performance artist, has released music CDs, and is planning on releasing a book of short stories next.
I'd recommend watching the trailer if you're curious. It definitely gives you a flavor of the film. If you like it, go see the movie, and you may fall in love, too.
After you see it, check out the movie website (http://www.meandyoumovie.com/) and Miranda's website (http://www.mirandajuly.com/) for more great stuff.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Miranda July created a perfect picture. I knew nothing before we went
in, and read only afterward that she was a performance artist and
thought "a ha", that explains how she achieved such True Art on Film.
The picture seems so clever and adorably funny on the surface, but its
lessons and beauty run to our core emotions and instincts. My husband
and I walked all the way home marveling at how many gorgeous layers
there are to peel away and enjoy, flavor by flavor. My favorites:
The SYMMETRY: Of the storyline, the first (goldfish) and last (Ellen) eulogies. From the desperate danger of the fire on John Hawke's hand, to the comfort of the fire of the rising sun in his youngest son's eyes. The round circle of peepers tended by their mother. The perfect dialog, "Like I'm a man in a book and you're just meeting the man in the book".
The REFLECTIONS: the full moon in John Hawke's full moon eyes, the reflected circle spotlighting him and then how he helped her repair the mirror, how he hated the reflected words of self esteem on his ex-wife's night shirt because only the wearer can read them in a mirror. The art curator fell in love with a reflection of herself, her own words simply pasted back to her, framed by a child's most basic understanding of sex (poop) and love (back and forth, forever). The F*** spelled backwards on her windshield under the reflections of passing trees. The distorted reflections of the fish in the water bag (John Hawke is riding along a dangerous road himself) as Miranda said "I don't know you but I love you" which reflect her developing feelings towards the special shoe salesman, after the empathy and insight he had shown into her undeserved (foot) pain. The passengers looking, or not looking, in their rearview mirrors at the fish on the cars.
The TOUCHES: How touch changes and heals us! The old man thought a shoe salesman touching his foot "was part of the service", but no "We never touch the foot." Miranda touches her three magic pink dots on her dashboard for strength, but she touches John Hawkes' squishy banana (decal) on his dash far too soon. The art curator and her assistant foolishly thinking a hamburger wrapper was sculpture because they did not dare touch it! The child's kind stroking of the art curator's hair, and the gentle knowing kiss of the woman to the child. Andrew, the other shoe salesman/neighbor says to them how wrong it is for him to touch the underage girls as he longs to, and the girls progress from applying bad makeup to kissing each other instead. And, of course, the healing touch of Miranda's pale perfect arm on the burnt hand of John Hawkes finally brings them both the sweetest peace. And their relaxation in embrace, brings peace to the viewer as well.
The HOPE: The brushes with immorality that always veer back to the side of the pure. The other shoe salesman/neighbor, who could think and write about hooking up with the underage girls, but when faced with their knock on the door, he was rightfully horrified.The kindness of the older boy Peter, who was able to sense that the girls' friendship depended on him telling them they were both skilled the same (when they weren't). And his responding to the mother-peep's public denials about her Hope chest by bringing her a private gift for it, and partaking in her imaginings of loving a daughter. The boy who could have been hurt walking home but wasn't. The possible internet molestation that instead became a tender moment on a park bench. That the curator woman with Cattitude (oh what that mug said about critics and their view of art!) had no family, and dog, and dog family, to sing carols with in summertime, but she walked away from that bench happy with the strange but beautiful connection she had made... So happy that she could finally appreciate the strange but beautiful macaroni.
And the RESPECT the film showed: for the young who are also sexual beings, in their way, for the single parent, for race, for the elderly, who still grow as much every day as the young: Yes, old Ellen was right, Miranda should collaborate, and it is her shared work with the old man that made it in the exhibition...... Miranda wanted to make it alone, but, like we all know, the Mayan ruins (or apartment building ruins, or family ruins) are always more beautiful with a partner. Only after Miranda the solo artist was ready to truly accept and enjoy working with someone else, and only after John's protective bandages were removed, did he call to begin their true love. Yes, the old man was right, even if the little girl saw her new goldfish die "At least we're all in this together."
I was fortunate enough to see this at the IFC screening a couple of
nights ago, and it was truly one of the most refreshing and genuinely
enjoyable films I have seen in a long time. It reminded me of an
artsier, less commercial Garden State with a female protagonist. And
unlike Garden State (which is still a great film), it captured those
random, lovely, hard-to-put-into-words bits of human emotion without
having to try as hard.
Two very pleasant surprises were the young actors who played the shoe salesmen's sons, more specifically, the six-year-old. I won't spoil the movie for any of you who are planning on seeing it, but the scenes involving the kids on the computer is priceless - it's going to have me laughing for a few years, I think.
I was disappointed that Miranda July did not stay for the entire screening because I would have loved to congratulate her on such an amazing movie. I hope she gets the recognition she deserves!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Anyone who's seen "Me and You and Everyone We Know" should get this - positively hilarious. I'd have to side with Ebert - this was definitely one of the major highlights (and surprises) of the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. The photography in this film is stupendous, the acting is heartfelt (I especially enjoyed the performances of the two young and curious boys), and the writing is excellent. I had never even heard of Miranda July prior to the festival, but I am now converted - she has loads of talent. "Me and You..." was such a touching, and honest film - with great dialogue (and it doesn't hurt that July herself is adorably cute).
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