The title of Miranda July’s film, her first, is Me and You and Everyone We Know . That’s all you need to know, you don’t need my review, just go see it. The movie, like most poetry, is not to be interrogated, but felt. If you are open to it, it seeks to look right out of the screen and deep inside you, like a lover. Talking about it feels like "kiss and tell".
Christine, played by July, makes art on her camcorder. She zooms in on photographs. She talks into the mic, changing voices to create yearning conversations between the people in the picture. She dreams of showing her videotapes in a gallery show about digital life.
We meet Richard, John Hawkes, a department store shoe salesman freshly separated from his wife. As a grand, dumb gesture to his kids, he douses his hand in lighter fluid and sets it on fire, not realizing he will be burned. He’s not crazy; he’s just a little too inspired for his own good.
Richard’s co-worker Andrew, Brad William Henke, is flirting dangerously with a pair of sexually precocious, underage girls. He tapes explicit notes to them on the window of his apartment. He is making a mistake — but he is seen with sympathy. The suggestion is that in an isolated, digital culture, computers and cell phones are that apartment window. To get rid of someone, you flip a switch.
Eventually, Christine and Richard meet. He helps her with a pair of shoes. He explains that he is not allowed to touch her foot. He notices a welt on her ankle. "You probably think you deserve the pain," he says. "But you don’t. Life is actually better than that."
Christine and Richard find themselves walking down the sidewalk together, floating like people in a Richard Linklater film. In two blocks they will part forever. Christine, her eyes lit by imagination and hope, says, "That intersection is us dying together of old age." Too close; Richard says something cruel to push her back. Later, she videotapes her feet. On one shoe, in magic marker, she’s written "You"; on the other, "Me." Her feet gently touch, recoil, and — very tentatively — touch again.
The recent movies Crash and Closer were concerned with the violence of misguided encounters. July’s film is better – tender, more oblique. We are accustomed to movies about eros: sexual desire. Here is a rare film about agape: spiritual love. Sex is seen as a means, a fumbling, confusing bridge. What we really long to do is sleep together like babies.
Me and You and Everyone We Know is the best film of the year. It is saturated with Miranda July’s warm, lyrical presence. I’m a little hesitant to tell you how much I’m in love with it. But if July can risk embarrassment, so will I. To paraphrase Martin Buber: it pains me to talk about this movie in the third person.
Me and You and Everyone We Know is playing at Showplace East. This and other theater and music reviews are available online at wfiu.indiana.edu. Reviewing movies for WFIU, this is Peter Noble-Kuchera.