Sweet indie drama to make you laugh

2008-10-02 08:05

ME and You and Everyone We Know is the most delightful surprise of an indie film you're likely to see in a long time.

It's an oddball movie, with oddball characters. People who don't fit in. Ordinary people. It has an unknown cast, though the lead actors, Miranda July (also the director, who plays a performance artist, which she is in real life), and John Hawkes (as a lonely shoe salesman), are sure to go places after their warm performances.

The film is partly about falling in love - by meeting, pushing apart, pulling together and skirting the issue. And being messed up, but knowing you're not really.

Which is why Brad Pitt could never have been in this movie. Hawkes and July are both normal-looking people, though attractive in their own way. They are unique, not chiselled. Their faces bear the testimony of life experience.

The film is also about childhood, and teenage-hood, and parenthood, and has a witty but innocent sexual undercurrent in a manner that can't have been approached before. There is a brief affair between the six-year-old son of the salesman and a woman in her thirties, and though that age difference sounds obscene, it's actually not. It is too cleverly done, sweet and funny.

The shoe salesman, Richard, has split with the mother of his children and is a little more rough round the edges than normal. He catches the attention, with his bizarre knowledge of his trade, of Christine, a performance artist seeking to get her work published, and love, who pursues Richard with a fanaticism that would put off anyone who did not match her own eccentricity.

Both believe in magic. Christine's art videos are of conversations between lovers, both voiced by herself, using postcards she collects to create imaginary lives for the characters. Richard says he wants his children to have magical powers, and that he is ready for anything, though that is not quite true because when he encounters Christine at first he recoils from her.

The adolescent theme revolves around Richard's troubled relationship with his sons, a young neighbour missing out on childhood because she wants to be grown up already, and two teenage girls trying to lose their virginity.

In the final scene, Richard's youngest son does manage, cleverly and only in his child's literal interpretation, magical powers - and while the world is messed up, at that moment everything is alright. July's sweet, courageous film will make you laugh and feel warm inside.

****

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