On My Screen

On My Screen: Me and You and Everyone We Know

My friend Valerie recommended this movie to me while I was asking the internet for some Netflix movies to add to my queue. I recalled seeing the box cover of the film on several occasions and how I had even contemplated watching it a few times, but the right time just never came. Since I’ll be home much more from now on (hello, unemployment! …a post about that later), I thought I’d dust off my movie review skills and start Ebert-ing it up a bit.

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Me and You and Everyone We Know is the first film by writer/director/actress Miranda July, in which she plays an eccentric performance artist by the name of Christine Jepsen, who moonlights as a cab driver for elderly folk. But the movie, like the title, is not just about her. She’s just the “Me” (or maybe we’re the “Me”) and there’s an entire slew of oddball characters that are introduced during the first half of the film. There’s also Richard Swersey (played by John Hawkes), a husband and father who’s new separation seems to be taking an interesting effect on his behavior. Or maybe it’s his behavior that prompted his wife to leave him. There really isn’t much in the way of back story, and for the sake of the film, it’s not really important anyway. He’s got two kids who live with him most of the time, it seems. His relationship with them seems strained at best.

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Christine and Richard meet while Christine is taking on of her ElderCab clients, Michael (Hector Elias) , to buy some new shoes. Richard’s a shoe salesman and ends up convincing Christine to buy a pair of pink flats she didn’t really want or need. That’s where the end of their typical interactions end, and from then on out, every time this pair is on the screen, they both seem to speak to each other in character, improvising realities as they go along, trying to show some sort of interest in each other at times, and at other times being almost cruel in denying the interactions ever happened.

But then we meet more people. Christine attempts to drop off one of her VHS taped performance pieces to a Ms. Nancy Herrington (Tracy Wright) who works for a local contemporary art museum, but Nancy seems less than thrilled to accept work handed to her by a total stranger and evident nobody. We also meet Richard’s neighbors, a little girl named Sylvie who later befriends one of Richard’s sons, Sylvie’s mother, and Richard’s coworker Andrew, who hits on a couple of neighborhood teen girls to the point of inappropriateness. Interesting side plots go on throughout the film, and it’s entertaining enough to keep you watching through to the end.

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Now, the two kids (played by Miles Thompson and Brandon Ratcliff) are by far the most amusing characters out of this entire movie. The shenanigans they each get into (especially little Robby) are very distinct and also believable, not to mention bordering on dangerous…but mostly, hilarious. If you’ve seen the film, the image below describes my favorite scene of all.

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I have to admit that I never really feel any connection to Christine or Richard in this whole film, although they are obviously the main characters. It’s everyone else they interact with that really keeps me wondering what’s going to happen next. Maybe it’s because they aren’t very likeable characters, but instead just full of awkwardness. And while I empathize with this, it’s not enough for me to want to invest emotionally into them. Still, the movie overall has a light tone and makes for excellent afternoon viewing. Not bad for Ms. July’s first feature, although I’ll have to watch her other movies to see what direction she heads in next.

3.5/5 Stars

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