Some people simply do not and will not understand artistic independent films. Whether by personal choice (being too enamored with formulaic big budget studio films) or ignorance (unwillingness to open their minds in search of intelligent enlightenment), certain moviegoers will never open up to such delightful tales. It’s really a shame because the beauty that exists in films like Miranda July’s Me and You and Everyone We Know is one of virtue. Nothing is sugar coated to appeal to a commercially accepting audience. Instead, it delves deep into the heart of its characters and expands into explosive verbiage that we should expect to see from real life people.
At the center of the story is a potential love interest between a recently divorced shoe salesman named Richard (John Hawkes) and Christine (Miranda July), a lonely driver for a company called ElderCab. They meet in the shoe section of the department store in which Richard is working. While assisting an elderly client going about his daily business, Christine gazes over a pair of pink dress shoes. Richard asks if she would like to try them on and Christine explains that shoes of that style rub her ankles leaving scars. Staring into her eyes, Richard humbly remarks, “You think you deserve that pain, but you don’t.”
Although Richard tries to be a good father and shows a genuine love for his children—he doesn’t always know how to show it. Early in the film, Richard lights his hand on fire as a way to impress his children. We later discover that this was a trick he witnessed from his uncle as a child. The problem is that his uncle used lighter fluid while Richard uses alcohol.
These are not your average citizens in the sense of normality - normal being a perceived conception. These are the type of strange people you might come across in a mall or grocery store. They are unique indeed—even peculiarly eerie. Picture the type of person that seems so intelligent and full of desire, yet lacks the skills to fit into the norms of society. What director July does best with Richard, as well as her own performance, is indulge us with a solid character study.
The emotions are not limited to the two leads. The powerful dialog and realism trickles down into the secondary characters. Most notable amongst them are the magnificent performances of Richard’s sons, 11 year old Peter (Miles Thompson) and 7 year old Robby (Brandon Radcliff). As Richard works long hours, the boys are often left home unattended. This can be seen as a testament to the typical lifestyle of today’s broken families. They spend much of their time in their bedroom talking to people on the internet. The sincerity displayed revolves around the innocence of the boys. They think they are smart enough to have cyber-sex with the person they are typing to. This sets up scenes that some people will view as insensitive or pornographic. This is far from the case. What it depicts, instead, is the manner in which real children would react in such a situation. The younger brother Robby actually inserts a ‘pooping’ scenario into the mix. Not because he thinks it would be enjoyable, but perhaps he is trying to fit into the conversation. Some hilarious moments matriculate here as well.
Peter finds himself in an actual sexual encounter with two neighborhood girls who themselves are lost in a world of inquisition and intrigue. Heather and Rebecca are put into a situation of young lust on behalf of an older man who just happens to be a co-worker of Richard’s. As innocent as they seem they are curious as to the prospects of losing their virginity to an older man. They feel the best way to settle an argument is to seek the opinion of Peter.
Peter is pleased by the act performed by the two girls. However, he is more interested in developing a friendship with next door neighbor Sylvie. She is younger than Peter, but much more intellectual than the other girls. She frequently engages in shopping trips with her mother and buys household appliances to have in place when she is married in the future. Peter seems thoroughly interested in Sylvie’s hobby and enjoys the in depth conversations that the two of them indulge into.
Other smaller storylines develop, including that of a confused art museum employee. She is connected to the movie when Christine turns in a videotape to the museum, but later fits into the film in a major way (and a shocking one at that) toward the conclusion. Also, a few important scenes develop between Richard and his ex wife Nancy. Through these scenes it is easy to see why the relationship was halted. However, you can also get a sense that their might have been a strong emotional connection between Richard and Nancy at one point.
This is a love story, but more than anything it is a story about life in a normal American town. The people may not seem normal and they may not always make the same decisions we would when put in their situations. However, the film depicts a type of lifestyle that truly exists. Furthermore, the dialog is among the best of any film I’ve seen this year. Pauses and uncomfortable silences (as Uma Thurman enlightened us to in Pulp Fiction) occur in all the right spots. The verbiage banter between the characters is so true to life that you can imagine being involved in such instances.
If there is any flaw whatsoever in Me and You and Everyone We Know it exists in the inability to finish the story off with a powerful finale. This can be overlooked. Mainly because long after the movie is over you still find yourself thinking about the characters and the phenomenal performances.
Looking for a DVD production as pleasing as the actual film? You won’t find it here. The Special Features on this disc begin and end with deleted scenes. Nothing more… nothing less.
Six deleted scenes in all account for around ten minutes of extra footage. The first is a conversation between Robby and Peter. Robby tells Peter that he pooped in the yard outside. Peter then goes off on a hilarious rampage about why Robbie shouldn’t poop in the yard. I actually think this clip would have spiced the film up even more and wish it would have made the final cut. This is followed up by a short and long scene titled “Robby Poops in the Yard.”
“Shamus and the Grenade” is a longer version of a scene that exists in the film. In it a classmate, under the instructions of a teacher, acts as a terrorist. The kids are instructed of what to do in such a situation and told to exit in an orderly fashion. While the kids are waiting, they look into the classroom window to see Shamus taunting the teacher with some sort of beverage bottle used as a prop to symbolize a bomb. Shamus takes the lid off and splashes the drink all over the room as the students watch on. All the while emotional music plays in the background in what amounts to be another powerful scene.
The next two scenes involve Sylvia. She is sitting at her home when she shows a magazine cutout of a girl in her class to her mother. The younger child is dressed as an underwear model, but to Sylvia’s parents the photos are repulsive. Aptly enough this deleted scene is titled “She Looks Like a Prostitute.” This scene is well done and says a great deal about the way Sylvia is raised. However, it doesn’t necessarily fit into the rest of the story and it is probably best that it was deleted from the final product.
This is followed by a scene involving the model, Sylvia and another classmate. Sylvia and another girl wish to play ‘house’ with the young model. However, both Sylvia and the other girl want to be the model’s mommy. When the unnamed girl says that they will just have to be ‘lesbian moms’ Sylvia says to the little model girl, “I’m your real mom. I’m the one that gave birth to you.” Of course, without the previous scene it makes little sense to include this into the final product.
At just 91 minutes, “Me and You and Everyone We Know” could have been served well by including a couple of these scenes. I seriously doubt the flow of the film would have been affected much.
For such a powerful film, the DVD extras are severely lacking. You’ll often have this with small budget films and this is really not a big deal. After all, would you rather own a bad film with stellar DVD features or a very good film with few DVD extras? I’ll take the latter any day. Mark this title as a must have for your DVD collection, despite the lack of extras.