Wednesday 1 September 2010

Me and You and Everyone We Know

Review for Film Ireland - original post - Friday, April 07, 2006
Me and You and Everyone We Know

DIR/WRI: Miranda July • PROD: Gina Kwon • DOP: Chuy Chávez • ED: Andrew Dickler, Charles Ireland • DES: Aran Mann • CAST: Miranda July, Tracy Wright, Hector Elias, Jonell Kennedy, Natasha Slayton, Najarra Townsend, Carlie Westerman, Miles Thompson, Brandon Ratcliff, Brad Henke, John Hawkes

As the film opens (or at least as I arrive in the cinema) director Miranda July 'does' some performance art in the persona of Christine Jesperson: voicing thoughts to her camcorder as she looks through the lens at a series of photos pinned to her wall. At the end of the sequence as she intones some poetic shtick about grace and we cut to a live bird – It calls up the scene in Shrek where the bird explodes into a ball of feathers as Jeff Buckley sings from 'Grace', but it doesn't, and that is the key motif of this film – everything is on the verge of collapse or explosion or both, but somehow something coheres. So it is, I guess, a treatise on grace, no less.

Later on in the film a classroom empties during a playing out session when one of the classmates stands at the top of the room holding a fruit juice, which represents a grenade. He is to be taught that this would be an inappropriate way to seek attention. His name is Seamus, and the frisson of this name (see byline) reins in any 'gonzo' tendencies I was thinking of putting in to this review. Even a critic manqué can be touched by grace.

The film is populated by a diverse group: shoe salesman Richard Swersey, who is splitting up with his wife at the very beginning of the film; their two sons, Robby (6) and Peter (14); performance artist-cum taxi driver Christine; her fare Hector, who she brings on a trip to the shoe shop and back to his lover's bed in the nursing home; a young girl, Sylvie, buying domestic appliances for her hope chest; a lonely art curator, and other connected characters. The film isn't an attempt to create 'reality', but it does stir up some real emotions.

People reach out to each other and touch, but not always in acceptable or successful ways. The two children visit a chat room where they get involved in a sad and potentially dangerous discussion with an anonymous surfer, particularly when the six year old continues the conversation without the reasonably knowing guiding hand of his older brother, and agrees to meet 'Untitled' on a park bench...

Two adolescent girls egg each other on to initiate an inappropriate conversation with an older man (Richard's co-worker Andrew), who then talks dirty with them via messages left on the window of his flat. When a note appears to favour one above the other, they decide to compare a certain sexual talent by doing some 'blind tasting' with a bemused Peter. Eventually they knock on Andrew's door…

The newly separated shoe salesman meets the taxi-driving artist, and they have some sort of a connection – he asks her if she feels like she deserves the pain her shoes inflict on her. They then engage in some mating rituals, including a walk down the block – talking of it as a metaphor for their relationship and/or their life. A short stint in the shoe salesman's car, which represents the afterlife, is less successful, but Christine tries again, leaving her card with Richard who can then choose to call her or not...

It is a discontinuous and contingent world, but the very discontinuity means that there will always be a new moon or new shoes or another chance. If you have any interest in what happens after the many …'s above you will have to go and see this film. And I haven't even included all the …s. If you don't reach out nothing happens...

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