Sunday, July 01, 2007

Me and You and Everyone We Know

The verdict: Dreamlike and deceptively feather-light, it is subtle and occasionally hits the marks it aims for, but ultimately this one is soporific and a little self-consciously 'arty' for its own good.

The rating: 5/10

Now, I like a good dose of cinematic pretentiousness as much as the next man. Given half a chance I'll wax semi-coherently about 'Lost In Translation' or 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind', unfazed by accusations of being a guardian-reading pinko liberal. I also like to think I'm open-minded enough not to dismiss a movie out of hand just because it is bears the burden of an 'arthouse' label. (So the semi-clad European starlets are just a bonus then? - Ed) Unfortunately though, this occasionally mean I spend a couple of hours watching something forgettable, when I might've been better off down the pub, or some such. Basically what I'm saying is, I do often like movies that could be called 'arty' folks, honest! I just didn't like this one all that much...

Loosely, 'Me and You and Everyone We Know' movie tells the story of Christine (Miranda July), an artist, who meets and falls for a Richard (John Hawkes), a recently separated shoe salesman. Meanwhile, While Richard deals with his ex-wife, and falters through his first meetings with Christine, his two sons are experiencing relationship troubles of their own. 14-year-old Peter is being bullied by two older neighbourhood girls, who in turn are nefariously connected to one of Richard's shoe store colleagues. Meanwhile six-year-old Robby is having an similarly inappropriate relationship over the internet. He gets chatting to someone through instant messaging while in the company of his brother, and they send a lot of nonsense to the mystery messenger, until Robby demands to send a message about poop. Yep, you heard right, poop. He says he wants to swop poop with his special someone, which is really quite cute and innocent when you think about it... but in the context of an internet chat-room, that sort of sentiment is only really going to attract the wrong sort of attention...

The main themes of this movie are the complex and fragile network of human connections that link us to the people we know, and the difficulties we have in employing the various means of communicating with those same people. Relationships can be complicated for all sorts of reasons, and many of those explored in this movie are very much in the difficult category. From the very first scene of the movie, as his wife leaves, Michael's wordless, impotent demonstration to his sons that something important is happening sets the tone. From then on, the characters communicate imperfectly, but they all somehow muddle through.

In a movie with themes such as this, the visual style and mood are very important, and in this respect, this movie has a lot going for it. However, the pace is a little slow, and even at just under ninety minutes, I felt it dragged its heels a little. The music was quite good though, and very much in keeping with the mood of this ephemeral surrealist tale.

The characters, although quite flawed and thoroughly human are unfortunately not all very likeable. The lead characters in particular behaved erratically, and the male lead seemed to parent his kids completely haplesly, and not in a very funny way. Not at all in fact. Also, the entire instant messaging episode just didn't sit right with me. The younger of the two kids is pretty much neglected in this movie, and yet he somehow ends up having magical moments of connection with the outside world. A lovely story of course, but the artist telling it could be accused of having her head up her arse a little bit to be brutally honest.

I don't mean to be too harsh on this film, because it's very much a mood movie, and perhaps a sober Sunday evening wasn't the right time to watch it. Even with that in mind though, and at the risk of being dismissed as a philistine, I wouldn't recommend 'Me and You and Everyone We Know' to anyone except film students, committed art-house fans... or stoners. (Harsh.. I think?! - Ed)

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