Hippo Manchester
September 15, 2005

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Me and 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 The Comeback.

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.