I’m not that much of a pessimist; generally I think that life’s okay… But that’s my problem right there: I’m not okay with ‘okay’. I want life to be wonderful and romantic and fantastic! That’s one of the reasons I love cinema so much: for two hours, you get to live in a world where anything can happen, everything anyone says is a bon mot and all you see is beauty and humanity.
Now, that doesn’t apply to most movies. 90% of what’s released is crap, or at best watchable but forgettable patchwork. Even many of the great films are more concerned with genre mechanics or intellectual concepts than with magic. But once or twice a year, we find original, elusive, heartfelt, funny-sad little movies that don’t intend to change the world but kinda do, one receptive person at a time.
But I might be overselling the damn thing, so I’ll go the total opposite way and mention right away that every other person who watches “Me and You and Everyone We Know” will hate it. Not find it ‘okay’ or ‘so-so’, HATE it. Personally, I think it’s quirky and poetic, but the same things I find to be grace notes will seem retarded and pointless to others. As David St. Hubbins once memorably pointed out, “It’s such a fine line between stupid and clever.”
I’ll give you an example. One of the early scenes shows a dude recently separated from his wife moving his stuff out of the house. He wants his two sons to remember this moment, to never forget that their parents used to live together as one happy family. He wants to make this into a “ceremony”. So he pours lighter fluid on his hand, sets it on fire and waves at them. What do you think? Clever or stupid? And I haven’t even told you about the ))(( thing!
“Me and You and Everyone We Know” was written and directed by Miranda July, who also stars as more or less a variation of herself. Like her character in the film, July is a multi-media performance artist. Again, this will turn off many people, but I personally don’t think July is taking herself too seriously. In fact, I’m pretty sure she’s poking gentle fun at contemporary art, like she’s saying, “yeah, I know this is silly, but can’t it be beautiful anyway?”
The film revolves around a dozen vaguely related characters. The central story is the idiosyncratic flirtation between the newly single father (John Hawkes) with the burnt hand, who also works as a shoe salesman (“You think you deserve this pain, but you don’t. Foot pain is not a fact of life.”), and July’s performance artist, who drives an ElderCab (“If you ever feel too old to drive, call this number.”) to pay the bills. Meanwhile, the two boys are exploring sexuality and romance on their own. 7 years old Robby (Brandon Ratcliff) has wildly inappropriate conversations with a stranger over the Internet, while his older brother Peter (Miles Thompson) is willingly used for practice by a pair of cocktease neighborhood teenage girls (“We’ll need a towel, a washcloth, something sweet like a cookie or a candy, a CD player and a Cody ChesnuTT CD.”).
Even with these quotes and descriptions, I don’t feel I’m doing the film justice. You’d have to see the gorgeous visuals and fleeting glimpses of absolute, you’d have to hear the simple but effective, casually emotional music by Michael Andrews (who also scored “Donnie Darko”), you’d have to experience the uniformly great performances of the cast… You’d have to see the film, basically – and you should! Macaroni.