Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005)
Director: Miranda July
Cast: Miranda July, John Hawkes, Miles Thompson, Brandon Ratcliff
My Rating: 9/10
In Short: Colourfully Poetic Suburbia
Me and You and Everyone We Know was Miranda July’s first film. Before that she only made a music video and that was it. I saw it months ago and just the other day had the chance to experience it again. I am thankful I watched it twice before writing this.
Some have made the juxtaposition between this film and Todd Solondz’s Happiness. While this juxtaposition in some respects is not far from the truth, I think there is a big difference between the two films; sure, there are some similar characters and scenarios, but I like Me and You and Everyone We Know just a bit more, and I’ll tell you why.
Miranda July clearly has a vivid imagination. The film’s opening credits play to a slow-motion shot of a man trying to put out the fire that has engulfed his burning hand. The film closes with the rhythmic sound of a coin tapping against metal and an indescribably poetic shot of the sunlight going along with it. The film’s soundtrack is peppy, upbeat and thoughtful. There are so many tremendous, memorable scenes; one that really sticks in your mind is a brilliant sequence involving a goldfish in a plastic bag and cars on the highway, one of the many times I fell in love with the film.
As well as some great scenes, the film is also coloured by a mixed bag of great characters, pretty much all of whom were played by mostly unknown actors, who brought reality and life to their roles. Perhaps the most life and bounce-in-her-step flavour belongs to July herself, who plays a character who could arguably be called the ‘main’ character. She falls for a salesman, the man who burnt his hand, who is struggling to raise his two children, one of whom becomes the victim of two sexually curious teenagers in the film’s most controversial scene, and the other who strikes up an online relationship with a woman who at first seems like a sexual tease and a bit of a slut but who is later revealed to be little more than a lonely woman with a stony attitude but a somewhat desperate face.
July chronicles the adventures of these characters with a jovial attitude and not a little comedy, but when the time comes to deal with more serious matters such as underage sex and paedophilia, she manages to keep a straight face and deal with the subjects in an appropriate manner, never overdoing it or becoming too explicit, but still causing a fair bit of controversy.
In my opinion, the film’s real power lies in the little things; the beautiful dialogue, the delightful scenery, the nervous tics and frailties of characters and sometimes the combination of sound and audio to create amazingly poetic images. As far as independent cinema goes, Me and You and Everyone We Know is unmistakably indie, but is that a bad thing? Far from it. In fact, it only enhances the realism and the delightful feel of the film. You feel like you’re watching people you know, perhaps even yourself, which is where the title comes from, and you’re seeing it all in this fascinating world which seems exactly like the world around you; no details have been changed, and at no point do we get the feeling this is all made up. Miranda July delights in the smallest of details, the tiniest things which make life feel so beautiful and inspiring.
A solid 9/10 for Me and You and Everyone We Know.