Me, You and Everyone We Know

This indie offering gives a refreshing view of LA life.

By Alastair Frusher

‘The kids are cute!’ is one of the thoughts it is possible to have on exiting Me and You and Everyone We Know but this is no warm Hollywood family drama or predictable romantic comedy. Although it does drift into the territory of both these genres, at other times it is like watching a series of video installations edited together and given an overarching narrative thread. For a large part of the film the approach just about works. Part of its strength is that it takes the familiar story of a dysfunctional family, separated parents and teen angst but surrounds the plot devices with surprising and memorable scenes. Rarely can self-immolation have been performed to entertain bored children or a goldfish offered prayers as it approaches death on a freeway but these are just two of a number of highly original scenes lifting the film out of the occasional whimsy into which it lapses.

The film arrives here after successful showings at Cannes and Sundance. Miranda July who wrote, directed and also stars in her debut feature has created a luscious looking suburbia. Los Angeles is so often shown as a hot, bleached landscape or neon-lit skyline but here it is a city of rich, deep primary colours occasionally offset by the greys and beiges of freeways and malls. streets come to represent timelines in a relationship and the mall is a place where karma can be found.

The character of Christine (played by July) is a video artist and ‘eldercab’ driver who for no apparent reason develops a fixation with a shoe-salesman, recently separated Richard Swersey (John Hawkes). Their relationship begins awkwardly and progresses just as badly but Christine’s strong belief that fate has brought them together drives her to continue the pursuit. Swersey, the object of her desire is somewhat bemused and not really sure about his new found attractiveness. He is more interested in attempting to engage his two young boys but with Peter (Miles Thompson) in his early teens and his younger brother Robby (Brandon Ratcliff) keenly holding onto his coattails he struggles to get anywhere near the same connection with them as they enjoy with complete strangers in their internet chat-rooms.

It is the scenes with the boys that contain many of the funniest moments. Ask a seven-year old to ‘talk dirty’ in an internet chat-room and apparently the sort of thing they will write is paradoxically far more filthy than anything an adult is likely to imagine – yet at the same time sweetly innocent.

July handles some difficult moments with the young cast extremely well and with a straightforwardness and simplicity that is refreshing. This bodes well for her future career although it is a shame that some of this was not extended into the other scenes where the divide between July as a filmmaker and July as Christine the video artist become blurred. It is within these scenes that a tendency to irritate creeps in and breaks up what is an otherwise refreshingly oddball offering.
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