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Filmfest DC

'Me and You': Getting Burned By Life

By Teresa Wiltz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 19, 2005; Page C04

Parenthood doesn't fare too well in multimedia artist Miranda July's "Me and You and Everyone We Know": There's the distraught father, who sets fire to his hand while his kids watch. It's meant to be a symbolic, cleansing ritual, but it backfires when the lighter fluid, um, ignites. Then there are the missing-in-action parents of the preteen girls who have a sexual contest using a neighbor boy as victim/judge. And the mother who doesn't seem to notice that her 10-year-old daughter has an unhealthy obsession with household appliances.

All the adults are so stuck in their own misery, so bogged down in their ennui, they don't seem to notice that the kids are not all right. Not by a long shot.

John Hawkes is a shoe salesman with a tender hand in Miranda July's "Me and You and Everyone We Know." (Gina Kwon)

Well, nobody's all right in July's quirky debut, which won a special "originality of vision" award at this year's Sundance Film Festival. The film is centered -- more or less -- on Richard (John Hawkes), the aforementioned burning man, a shoe salesman who loses his mooring when his wife kicks him and their mixed-race boys to the curb. He meets creepy-cute Christine (July), a performance artist who's a little too eager to connect.

No one quite connects here; nor does the film with the viewer. It has original vision all right: a certain lyrical pace with some nice poetic moments, and a standout performance by 6-year-old actor Brandon Ratcliff. But it's a little too self-conscious, meandering around moments without real resolution. Much like life, perhaps, but it's an approach that may leave audiences wondering, "What does it all mean?"

Me and You and Everyone We Know, 90 minutes, tonight at 6:45 and tomorrow night at 6:30 at Landmark's E Street Cinema, is not rated and includes profanity, scenes of simulated sex and a graphic Internet chat scene involving children.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company