Me & You & Everyone We Know

November, 2005, Comedy

Performance artist Miranda July debuts as screenwriter/director & leading lady in this loopy and thoroughly engaging comedic romp about the vagaries of human attraction which took honors at both the Cannes & Sundance Film Festivals earlier this year. She shines as Christine Jesperson, an aspiring artist & filmmaker who moonlights as a chauffeur for senior citizens. On one of her assignments, Christine meets shoe salesman Richard Swersey, (John Hawkes) whose wife has just walked out on him and their sons Peter and Robby, the former a pointedly shy teenager, the latter an adorably prepubescent contemporary Huck Finn. One look is all it took; Christine instantly pines for Richard, who's unsuccessfully trying to regain the affections of his wife. Andrew, Richard's shopping mall co-worker, lusts after a pair of pushy Lolitas who live in his neighborhood. Peter grows fascinated by a bossy grade schooler that lives next door who’s methodically shopping for the trousseau she'll need when she marries. Robby exchanges scatological fantasies with a mysterious Internet sweetheart who turns out to have a real life connection with Christine, who finally breaks through Richard's clueless self-understanding in one of the gentlest, wordless love scenes in recent memory.

    Sweetly subversive of conventional values as it examines the inexplicable dimensions of human attraction, Me & You turns middle class presumptions about what constitutes acceptable societal behavior inside out, upside down and back to front, in 91 minutes of disarmingly provocative movie-making. As she lovingly examines the unconventional connections in her storyline, July gently suggests that in human affairs, humble acceptance is far superior to measured judgment. Since we're drawn to people without rational explanation, affection should simply be enjoyed without reference to the laws of social convention. Sheer romanticism has never been given such an effortlessly contemporary spin.

John Hawkes, (the quietly effective hardware store owner in HBO's Deadwood series) conveys Richard's devastation at the end of his marriage, making it both understandable and appealing, while 15 year-old Miles Thompson and the even younger Brandon Ratcliff provide Richard's sons with just the right amount of guile and innocence. But it's July herself who really lights up this film; how can one person be so dazzlingly talented and wondrously attractive at the same time? Without great physical beauty, her lovesick Christine is as beguiling as Audrey Hepburn was in Sabrina, but with even more intelligence and creativity. As actress, she's captivating; as a screenwriter she's fabulous, crafting lines that combine off-the-wall phraseology with keen and apparently unreflective insight.

With its breezy nonchalance about matters sexual and sufficient vulgarity to merit its R rating, Me & You will probably appeal more to the 30-something and under set than to those of us on Social Security--but there is too much sharp, compassionate wisdom in this shrewd little movie to ignore. Miss it at your own peril and may Ms. July become a very bright factor in the movies for years to come.     

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