Me and You and Everyone We Know
February 7, 2006
Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005) is a meditative and thoughtful, an intensely personal movie about alienated people trying to connect with each other in an impersonal world. There is a refreshing unpredictable quality to this movie that guarantees that you will have no idea where it is headed or what’s going to happen next but it is made in such a way that you trust the filmmaker’s instincts implicitly and allow them to take you where they want to go.
Richard (Hawkes) is shoe salesman at a department store who has just separated from his wife and is living with their two children (Thompson and Ratcliff). He feels alienated, at odds with the world and yet optimistic as he says at one point, “I’m prepared for amazing things to happen.” Christine (July) is a genteel, struggling conceptual artist who drives a cab for the elderly to pay the bills. They meet when she takes one of her regular fares to buy shoes. Nothing much happens and they cross paths again. Their conversation is almost a contest to see who can be more idiosyncratic but in an endearing way. They imagine having a whole life together during a short walk to where they parked their respective cars.
Me and You and Everyone We Know is the kind of movie that takes a mundane event like trying to save a goldfish in a bag on top of a moving vehicle into some kind of heroic act. It contains an eager, idealistic streak much like Punch-Drunk Love (2002) and I Heart Huckabees (2004). Like those movies the dialogue in this one is idiosyncratic and original. At first, it seems like everyone is talking in non-sequitors. The characters suffer from extreme sensitivity – they feel everything. Miranda July’s movie has more in common with Punch-Drunk than Huckabees. It shares Paul Thomas Anderson’s sincere belief in true love whereas Huckabees was more satirical in nature.
After years of obscurity playing minor, blink-and-you’ll-miss-him roles in films like From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) and The Perfect Storm (2000), it’s great to see John Hawkes finally in a significant role (he’s also a regular on HBO’s TV show Deadwood). He has big, expressive eyes that convey so much about what his character is feeling. Miranda July, on the other hand, resembles one of the Deschanel women (maybe Zooey) with a dash of Maggie Gyllenhaal (the same sad eyes) and an Olive Oyl quality of a young Shelly Duvall.
There are so many delights to behold in this movie. There are the kids who speak eloquently and intelligently but not in a pretentious way, rather in a way that is completely disarming. There is the film’s score by Michael Andrews that has a Jon Brion-esque vibe reminiscent of the sad circus-type music he did for Boogie Nights (1997) and the kind of whimsical, semi-cosmic music you hear in science shows or at science centres and/or planetariums.
Me and You and Everyone We Know has the weirdness of a Todd Solondz movie mixed with the optimism of Wes Anderson. For a first time feature film director, July demonstrates a unique world view by creating a movie that could have only been done independently because no studio would understand it much less agree to finance it. In many respects, it is the kind of movie that July’s character in the movie might have made. Me and You and Everyone We Know speaks to a personal voice and not with some kind of tired old formula. It certainly isn’t a movie for everyone but for those who are captivated by its unusual, yet totally captivating spell, its rewards are substantial.
There are six deleted scenes that feature more footage with Richard’s kids and a longer version of the grenade drill at school.