“Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” We hear this often – yet when we go through Borders, it’s the covers that are so prominently featured. And when it comes to my selection of movies, sometimes this is just what I do. Actually, to be more accurate, in the case of Me and You and Everyone We Know, I chose a ‘movie’ by it’s ‘title’.
Everyone who knows me knows I’m a sucker for a good romantic comedy. Netflix makes suggestions based on movies I’ve seen. When this title showed up in my list of suggestions – for some reason I just had to add it to the queue. And only now after seeing it do I realize that it’s not exactly a romantic comedy in the “Serendipity” or “Notting Hill” sense of the phrase. It is much more akin to Garden State or The Squid and the Whale – both of which I loved immensely.
On Wednesday night, I found myself with some time and a stack of 5 Netflix films. The only reason why I chose this film was because of it’s short runtime (about an hour and a half). After having seen it, I’m certain that this will probably end up being the best in film in the stack of films that I have to watch – and it may quite possibly be the best film that I’ve seen all year.
It’s difficult to categorize Me and You. It has elements of romance, but it’s not by any stretch of the imagination a true romantic comedy. It’s got some dark comedy elements, but it’s not in any way approaching the edge that Todd Solondz goes over. And while it has elements of drama, it’s not a traditional drama either. So what exactly is it?
Me and You has the “Independent Films Channel” credit before the film plays, and this is completely appropriate. The best way to describe the film is that it is an independent film. And this is a good thing. It’s independent in many ways, but mostly in the way that I like – this is a completely original cinematic experience. It’s strange. It’s unpredictable. And if you finish the film, it’s rewarding.
Miranda July writes, directs and stars in Me and You along with a handful of other actors who turn in incredibly strong roles. It’s strange to describe the plot in the traditional sense, but I’ll try. The film stars John Hawkes as ‘Richard’ – an eccentric shoe salesman with two bi-racial children. Richard is going through a separation from his wife and his inquisitive children seem to have adopted his non-conventional approach to life. Along the course of the film he meets Miranda’s character, “Christine” – and the movie progresses from there. To say anything more about the actual plot would be to spoil the film.
One that that everyone SHOULD know about this film before seeing it is that there are some very challenging scenes in it that involve young actors – children. If you’re at all bothered in the least by the hint of sexuality and children discovering things, this might not be the film for you. I despise pedophilia (and even more that we’ve chosen to put a name on it), but this isn’t a film that most adults will be offended by. You should be disturbed by some of the things you’ll see, but it’s mostly a reflection of societal evolution. Take one listen in a grade school playground during lunch and you’ll realize that we’re living in very different times. This film turns those child performances up slightly for dark comedic effect. There are certainly some funny situations.
There are so many things that stand out about this film. It starts off with a few attention grabbing, weird visual images. Had I made a judgement call after the first five minutes, I would have certainly signaled a thumbs down. But this film has a gentle quality about it’s characters. They’re frail, but they have a deep sense of who they are and what they want – even the children. I didn’t want to dig too deeply into message boards before posting my review (as not to taint my view with the ideas of others) but I can tell just by skimming that there’s a lot more under the surface than just the actual playing out of the events. There’s some subtle hidden meaning or symbolism that can be extracted if you take the time to look deep enough. And no, this isn’t a pretentious film in the least bit. But it does give the viewer the chance to extract a deeper meaning, and thankfully there’s a message of hope beneath it all.
“Me and You and Everyone We Know”. If I had a romantic comedy to make, that might not be the worst title to choose. “Hey Faith – let’s do it. Let’s get married! We’ll invite all our friends. And we’ll get dressed up and celebrate the start of our new life together… it will just be me…and you..and everyone we know….”
But it’s not a romantic comedy. This is something much more prolific. This is a wonderful film that will find space in my collection of favorite films and movies to recommend. It’s runtime is short, but it has the substance of a film twice it’s length. This is the type of film worthy of an evening discussion among friends. If you aren’t a mainstream movie type who just wants to see a longer version of the trailer and you crave original experiences, this is one not to be missed. Terrific film.