Me and You and Everyone We Know

When a movies wins awards at both Cannes (the Golden Camera for writer/director Miranda July and the Young Critics Award) and Sundance (a Special Jury Prize for originality of vision), one should immediately take notice. The great news is that unlike some winners at both festivals, Me and You and Everyone We Know is worthy of the acclaim and makes for an extremely interesting viewing experience. July (a performance artist who also wrote The Center of the World) refuses to stay within one genre. This is a romantic comedy, but it is also pretty bleak. It's moderately sized casts wanders around in their own storylines, crossing paths every once in a while while exploring themes of loneliness and belonging.

The best word to describe this film is "quirky," yet this can also be insulting. July throws together people on the fringes of society. They reach out to each other trying to look for a connection. These are not the type of people typically seen in movies, and that is part of what makes watching this feel so refreshing. None of them are conventionally beautiful. They are not rich, and they are very unsure of themselves. Richard Swersey (John Hawkes, Identity, Hardball) is going through a separation with his wife. She gets the house, while he still works at his job selling shoes and lives in a one-bedroom apartment. His sons Peter (Miles Thompson, Thirteen Conversations About One Thing) and Robby (Trevor Ratcliff, Breathe) stick to the computer and think he's weird.

Christine Jesperson doesn't think he's weird. She has a job driving elderly people around on errands and is trying to break into the art world. Jesperson sees a kindred spirit in Swersey. Both are trapped in their current lives but dream of better things. Swersey doesn't quite feel the same way, and rebuffs her efforts at friendship. Swersey is too scared to leave his comfort zone. Me and You and Everyone We Know is also a film about taking chances, and at some point, each character needs to decide whether to let his/her guard down for somebody else.

Now this may sound extremely pretentious, but July's script is also raucously funny. It's rated R partially for "disturbing sexual content involving children," but this is mostly due to an internet chat that Robby has with a stranger (this reviewer will forever chortle whenever anybody utters the phrase "back and forth"). Another adult man plays a dangerous game with two teenage girls. Anchoring the film are Hawkes and July. Hawkes' performance is great. He has never really had a chance to be a leading man, and here, he plays somebody trying to pick up the pieces of his life. The things he wants for his boys are far beyond his means, and he is doing his best to make do with what he has. July is a good foil for him. Jesperson is a free spirit and unique thinker, and July's performance is earnest and pure. There's not that much going on plotwise, but the conversations that the characters have with each other are engrossing.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Good.
1 hour, 37 minutes, Rated R for disturbing sexual content involving children, and for language.

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