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I'm an Irish guy living in France. I like music, books, creative writing, art, history, vegetarianism, people, and chocolate.

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Saturday 7 March 2009

Me and You and Everyone We Know

Me and You and Everyone We Know came out four years ago but I only got round to seeing it now. It was directed by Miranda July, who also plays the lead role. Her quirky character, Christine, provides taxi services for old people. She's also a video artist, and she tries to get her work exhibited in a museum. She falls in love with Richard, a shoes salesman who has just got divorced. He tries to raise his kids and connect with them, but in vain - to try to get their attention, he even sets his hand alight and waves at them.
And that's one of the main themes of the film : connecting in the age of the internet. This is mostly developed in the subplots involving Richard's two boys, two teenage schoolgirls and a curator of a museum of contemporary art. The boys' first experience of sex takes the form of a scatological online chat with a complete stranger. A middle-aged man flirts with two schoolgirls, but when things might actually get physical, he hides from them. The curator views Christine's video artwork, and at the end of the cassette is a kind of pre-recorded interview of Christine : another delayed, indirect and virtual exchange. And although the exhibition the curator is preparing is a reflexion about the alienation caused by virtual communication, she herself has no one in her life. What's interesting is that the film came out just before the boom of networking sites (Myspace, Facebook, et al), but it brings some interesting insights. Even though technology and the Internet make it much easier, cheaper and quicker to communicate, humans are unable to connect in the computer age. The computer screen has become a barrier - an actual screen, if we want to play with semantics - between people. There is a breakdown of intimacy - whether platonic or sexual. Intimacy is replaced by an unhealthy type of fantasy - fantasy has always existed, and there's nothing wrong with it in itself, but the division created by the screen means that it's never acted out, there is never any real contact or sharing or exchange.
The film has some uncomfortable moments in it (the scene where a 8 year old kid sex-chats online with a stranger without even knowing what sex is is quite disturbing) and might be too quirky for the taste of some people, but it's one of the best I've seen in a while. Miranda July and John Hawkes (Richard) are great performers, some of the lines are memorable, the strange music fits the film perfectly, and there's some beautiful camera shots (the film actually won the Caméra d'Or at Cannes in 2005). But again, I don't think it's a film which will speak to everyone. Some people might think it's too pretentious, or just not get it. But it's probably like a good red wine. If you swallow it too quickly, you'll only taste the vinegary bits. If you let your tongue savour all the flavours it has to offer, you'll most likely love it!


John Dent said...

It really spoke to me. There was something really heartbreaking and endearing about Richard and Christine's need to connect... Their final scene in the garden was just...perfect.

Groovy Shamrock said...

Yes that scene is hard to beat... with the two "freeing" the bird picture by putting it in the tree.
I also love the closing scene with the kid knocking the coin against the lamppost at the same speed as the sun rises.

Emerald Champagne

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