You and Everyone We Know (R)
by Amy Diaz
Who’s weird? Who’s
incapable of communicating with loved ones? Who has no idea what they’re
doing with their life? Who has dreams that don’t quite fit their
circumstances? Why, it’s Me and You and Everyone We Know, a funny,
slightly-creepy, odd movie.
I know several people
who, to varying degrees, cannot bear to watch social awkwardness. They
cringe, they put hands in front of their face, they suddenly need very
much to get a drink of water or go to the bathroom or (in extreme cases)
they will close their eyes and do that “la la la la la” thing that kids
do when they are trying to block our your talk of bedtime or vegetables.
These people have varying degrees of illness: some are unable to watch
Seinfeld, some can watch Seinfeld but not Curb Your Enthusiasm, some are
fine with Curb Your Enthusiasm but have a surprisingly hard time with
Me and You and Everyone
We Know ought to pretty much cause hives and a bad case of the squirms
in all these people. The movie, quiet with frequent moments that will
cause you to nearly choke with surprised laughter, is bursting at the
seams with social awkwardness.
A good chunk of it
radiates from Miranda July, the film’s writer, director and female lead.
She plays Christine, a conceptual artist who drives an eldercab when
she’s not working on one of her videos. While taking one of her clients
to get shoes she meets Richard (John Hawkes of Deadwood fame). Recently
separated, Richard is perhaps best described as just this side of
insanity. His boys seem to sense that in him and give him a wide berth
with the 14-year-old-ish Peter (Miles Thompson) more or less serving as
the main caretaker of his younger brother Robby (Brandon Ratcliff, an
adorably big-eyed boy who looks both desperately lonely and perhaps the
most even-keeled of all the movie’s characters). Peter spends most of
his time on the Internet where one of his favorite activities is talking
dirty (or at least trying to) in chat rooms. Robby picks up the pastime
and has something of an online affair with a woman who mistakes his
8-year-old-boy interest in bodily fluids for something kinkier. Peter,
meanwhile, strikes up a friendship with a younger neighbor who spends
her time filling a hope chest with kitchen appliances and towels for
some imagined future life.
Through it all the
flighty but besotted Christine tries to get the flighty but besotted
Richard to move beyond his fear just enough to ask her out and begin the
wonderful relationship she’s convinced they are meant to have.
We are all weird but we
are all in it together — this might be one way of describing the
over-all position of this movie. We are all weird and we are all in it
concurrently might be a better way — as characters seem to exist in
bubbles next to each other but never quite touching. The movie is like a
shy girl at a party — wanting to be noticed but not at all sure what to
do or say when it is.
And, yes, it may be
hard to take — plenty of moments are too cutesy, too awkward or too
stagy. Like a reflection in a mirror in too-harsh light, even when we
don’t like what we see we have a hard time looking away.