4 October 2012

Miranda July's Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005)

Me and You and Everyone We Know is Miranda July's self-written directorial début in which she plays Christine Jesperson – a shy and lonely senior cab driver and amateur video artist – with John Hawkes as Richard Swersey, a shoe salesman separated from his wife and bringing up six-year-old Robby (Brandon Radcliff) and teenaged Peter (Miles Thompson).

July didn't start with a plot but from her own daily feelings, and having an ensemble cast she had the freedom to add characters and connections (or disconnections).

Me and You and Everyone We Know hovers around the edges of everyday actions, shows hesitations, emphasizes how embarrassments and clumsiness can be self-perpetuating, makes  the real appear strange or unreal, even touches on the surreal.

To some extent the film is about social borders, an exploration of the lines between the transgressive and the non-transgressive: Richard tells a client that the salespeople are not allowed to touch their clients' feet, and yet when Christine – a woman he has spoken to on friendly, even embryonically romantic terms – uninvited, sits down in his passenger seat, he angrily tells her to get out of his car. (Yes, of course there's more than a suggestion of psychological trauma in him.)

Child sexuality is a major issue, and is treated as normal and healthy. Heather (Natasha Slayton) and Rebecca (Najarra Townsend) experiment with oral sex* on Peter, although adult Andrew (Brad William Henke), who manifests disturbingly desperate signs of sexual frustration, wisely hides under his window inside when the girls knock at his door.

Me and You and Everyone We Know is essentially about communication, people's need to relate to others and how they succeed or fail. It could easily have had a negative ending, but it is in fact gently uplifting.

* July was not allowed to have a minor use the expression 'blow job', so the meaningless (and unintentionally subversive) 'jimmy ha-ha' was invented.

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