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Revisit:

Me and You and Everyone We Know

Dir: Miranda July

2005

Revisit is a series of reviews highlighting past releases that now deserve a second look.

Me and You and Everyone We Know, Miranda July’s quirky, observational romantic comedy for misfits, is a mere five years old and just as sweetly astute as is used to be. But the film’s focus on the emotional ineptitude of a digitalized generation, while relevant as ever, already seems dated in the details. This is not to say that the film’s essentials suffer from old age. On the contrary, the relationships between July’s socially awkward heroine, Christine, the equally awkward object of her affection, Richard (played by John Hawkes), and everyone else in the film are like the immersion blender that precocious pre-teen Sylvie (Carlie Westerman) covets for her premature hope chest collection: they may not be “timeless,” contingent as they are on the peculiarities of 21st century culture, but they are certainly modern classics, stories bound to resonate even as they evolve in our increasingly internet-reliant society.

Christine is a driver for “Elder Cab,” and spends her days alternately holed up in her very pink apartment creating multimedia art works or carting physically isolated seniors around town. Looking back, it’s pretty obvious that Michael (Hector Elias), Christine’s principal charge, has a more genuine social and romantic life with his bed-ridden lover Ellen (Ellen Geer) than any of the younger, more physically and digitally mobile characters in the film…and that his willingness to throw himself into that tenuous connection so late in life will teach our heroine to face her fears and force human interaction into her life. Perhaps it also says something about the value of “old-fashioned” relationships, forged and maintained in-person. Then again, Michael is old, Ellen is dying – and we sense that Christine’s world, our world, will require a creative integration of the tangible and the digital in order to thrive.

Michael and Christine meet Richard during an afternoon outing to the local department store. Richard is a would-be idealist, a vibrant soul trapped in the body of a recently divorced shoe salesman and father of two young boys. While Christine works up the gumption to pursue Richard, catching his eye with the little oddities that win us even as we squirm in discomfort on her behalf, Richard’s sons navigate the perils of motherlessness in their dad’s new neighborhood. From touchingly misinformed cybersex chats to a surprising recruitment into a fellatio stand-off by a pair of local teenage girls, both Peter and Robby (Miles Thompson and Brandon Ratcliff) exhibit a jaded façade that brims just beneath the surface with a frank hunger for human connection. And if the computers and teen get-ups seem clunky and outdated (these days, all the kids would have their own iPads, and six-year-old Robby’s clever cut-and-paste chat room strategy would be obsolete thanks to the ubiquitous intuition of smart phone technology), the emotional resonance of their childhood odyssey is fresher than ever.

Ultimately, Me and You and Everyone We Know is a funny, tender missive of love and advice to 21st century humanists, to the artists and lovers and dreamers and romantics among us who flounder even as they are formed by the impact of digital technology on contemporary life. July brings a message of comfort and empathy to anyone who has ever felt at odds with today’s world, isolated in a sea of social networks and endless information. I’m curious to see how it holds up another five, ten, fifteen years down the road; but barring the total obliteration of computer technology from the face of the earth, I suspect Me and You and Everyone We Know will continue to touch, amuse and inspire us long into the coming decades.

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