Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005)

Beth Gottfried

e and You and Everyone We Know teaches us that life's tender intricacies and ironies can bring us closer to one another.

Me and You and Everyone We Know

Director: Miranda July
Cast: John Hawkes, Miranda July, Miles Thompson, Brandon Ratcliff, Carlie Westerman, Hector Elias
MPAA rating: R
Studio: IFC Films
First date: 2005
US Release Date: 2005-06-17 (Limited release)

When elder cab car driver/aspiring performance artist Christine (Miranda July) accompanies elderly Hector (Hector Elias) to the local department store to buy a pair of sneakers, she meets down-on-his-luck, recently separated Richard Swersy (John Hawkes). Richard is the salesman, recently separated from his wife. After noting Christine's bruised ankle, the ill effect of wearing bad shoes, Richard turns to her and says, poignantly, "You think you deserve that pain. But you don't." Though it might sound sentimental, even corny, such dialogue reveals complex truths in Me and You and Everyone We Know, co-winner of this year's Camera d'Or at Cannes.

Written and directed by performance artist July, the movie maintains a delicate balance between irony and sincerity. When Christine drives Hector home from the department store, she sees a goldfish in a bag literally floundering on the roof of a car on the highway. She mourns for the fish, relaying to Hector her anxiety over its impending death. As the scene unfolds in slow motion, the bag bounces from one car and finally lands on the roof of another before that car jerks suddenly and the bag falls to the ground.

Christine's face reflects her pain; but while her vulnerability is poignant, it's not unique to her. In the opening scene, as Richard's wife Pam (Jonell Kennedy) is leaving him, he runs to his kids' room and asks, "If you didn't know me, would you think I was a normal guy with a wife and kids?" Teenaged Peter (Miles Thompson) and six-year-old Robbie (Brandon Ratcliff), look at him uneasily. And with that, Richard heads outside, where he lights his hand on fire, his sons staring at him through the window. It seems that everyone is desperate in this film, but ultimately redemption and love win out.

At school, Peter is most attracted to the pensive Sylvie (Carlie Westerman), who keeps a hope chest and dreams of some day having a daughter to whom she can say all the things her mother can't say to her. "I will tell her she's a precious gift," Sylvie says with a tear in her eye, lying on her bedroom carpet next to Peter. They gaze up into the camera that hovers above, envisioning a world where they can never be hurt and aren't forced to be adults at such a young age.

Richard's coworker Andrew (Brad Henke) is differently troubled by age expectations, as he's an adult behaving like a child. He likes to flirt with sexually provocative teens Heather (Natasha Slayton) and Rebecca (Najarra Townsend), leaving dirty notes on his window instructing them to kiss and lick one another, when the girls knock on his door ready to call his bluff, he cowers inside, afraid to act on his apparent desires. In the department store, Andrew listens to Richard's fear of being alone: "When Pam and I first met, we'd lie in bed all day." Andrew assumes that Richard is referring to sex, but Richard corrects him. "No, we would just sleep together like babies." The men understand each other at last, as Andrew replies, "Yeah, that is beautiful." This brief interaction -- suggesting at once innocence and yearning -- reveals the film's delicate capacity to convey mixed emotions, to allow for nuance and possibility.

It's in this context that Richard's relationship with his sons anchors the film. While we never really know what went awry in his marriage, we see that he's not a model father. He's just average and that's what makes him all the more extraordinary. When Richard sees his kids silently protesting him, he can't hide his desperation; sometimes you wish he would hide it, at least a little. He's raw and discomforting. Left to their own devices while their father is working (which is most of the time), Peter and Robbie are exposed to the pitfalls of the internet, an exposed and also detached form of human connection.

Perhaps the most disturbing and yet comedic scene involves Peter and Robbie's online chat with someone who thinks her correspondent is her age, that is, an adult. Robbie instructs Peter to type: "Say, 'You poop into my butthole and I poop into your butthole... Back and forth... Forever.'" When Robbie finally meets his online paramour on a park bench at the end of the film, the scene manages to escape the pitfalls of anything remotely sketchy or awkward (though she is shocked to see him), but is instead strangely moving.

Waiting on the bench, Robbie watches a man tap a nickel on a metal sign, as the man waits for his bus. Maybe, this quiet, unforced moment suggests, we are all just passing the time here on earth. But if Me and You and Everyone We Know teaches us anything, it's that life's tender intricacies and ironies can bring us closer to one another, and to some form of happiness. Passing time won't suffice. Happiness emerges in action, some effort to reach out.





The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.


The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.


Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.


'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.


'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"


Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.


The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".


GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".


Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".


Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.


Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.


The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".


Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.


Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.