Me And You And Everything We Know
Review Date: 7.19.05
We’d all like to be happy and no one wants to be lonely. But how do we attain this state? That’s the issue Me And You And Everyone We Know explores.
This film seems to be billed as a screwball romantic comedy, but in reality, it’s a dark, tragicomic work of art. Director, writer, and star Miranda July cloaks the interwoven worlds of her protagonists with a disarming veneer of humor. But seething just below the surface are very dangerous currents. There are five children at the heart of Me And You AndEveryone We Know, and each of them is at risk.
The youngest and most precocious of the lot is a six year old named Robby. In a remarkable performance by Brandon Ratcliff, Robby self navigates through a series of dangerous situations. Well meaning but moderately inept adults leave enough cracks in Robby’s world for him to almost slip through. That he has, by film’s end, managed to survive, is a small miracle.
Robby’s brother Peter is crossing the treacherous ravines and mountains of puberty. His parents have recently separated. He’s surrogate parent to his very bright and much younger sibling. He’s barely into his teenage years, but already the ache of the world is upon him.
In one heartbreaking scene, Peter has just finished a piece of computer art. It’s composed entirely of punctuation marks. What is it, Robby asks. And Peter tells him it’s “people seen from above, from the sky. It’s me, you, and everyone we know.” What he’s really saying, of course, is that he’d like a little distance, a way to diminish the pain of living up close, in the midst of it all.
And that sentiment is echoed a bit later in the film, in another powerful scene. Peter, with the kind of intuitive genius we sometimes exercise, but are oblivious of, has just presented a teddy bear to the girl next door. She, at the age of ten, has become a super consumer, a collector of household appliances. She stores them in a chest, her dowry, she calls it. The teddy bear, one suspects, is probably her only childish possession. Her name is Sylvie. She accepts the gift, which Peter has told her is for her future daughter, then guides Peter onto the floor, on his back. She lies down beside him and tells him in poetic detail what her kitchen will look like. And Peter looks at the light fixture above them and declares that he wishes he could live up there, on the ceiling.
I haven’t mentioned the two teenage girls, Peter’s age. They’re in a big hurry to grow up, especially sexually. They invent and fantasize ways to make it happen. One scheme is relatively harmless, but another is fraught with risk and involves commerce with a potential pedophile. I won’t tell you how that scene turns out.
So far I’ve said little about the adult protagonists. What happens with them, and how it happens, is the putative narrative line in Me And You And Everyone We Know. These are lonely men and women in pursuit of the mythical partner who will erase, or at least diminish, the woes of their worlds. It’s not that their stories are without interest. In fact, watching these ostensible adults cope with their longings is moving, amusing and sometimes instructive. The only healthy adult in the film, a man named Michael, seems to have attained his maturity the old fashioned way - by becoming an old man.
Intentional or not, I think Me And You And Everyone We Know is a brilliant portrait of urban American life, and I urge you to see it.
For KUSP’s Film Gang, this is Dennis Morton.