On this day in 2005, Miranda July’s Me and You and Everyone We Know won the Special Jury Prize for Originality of Vision—Dramatic at Sundance Film Festival. Miranda’s film, which serves as an early exploration of human connection in the digital age, certainly deserved a prize for originality at the time. Now, in 2024, with issues of connection amidst the digital world more rampant than ever, it’s worth revisiting Me and You and Everyone We Know.
Me and You and Everyone We Know is an independent film written, directed by, and starring Miranda July. The film centers around Christine Jesperson (played by Miranda), a struggling artist and “elder cab” driver who meets and forms a unique connection with Richard Swersey (played by John Hawkes), a newly single shoe salesman and father of two. Following a somewhat unconventional narrative structure, the film serves more as a character exploration—of Christine and Richard, but also of other figures who weave in and around their lives, like Richard’s two sons, two teenage girls and one younger girl in their neighborhood, and the art curator to whom Christine pitches her work.
The aesthetic of Me and You and Everyone We Know is wonderfully 2005; though I was only five at that time, it looks exactly like the distant memories of my childhood in my mind. Saturated with bright colors—electric green foliage, patterned rugs and wallpapers, and a maximalistically-clad department store—the film would border on camp if it didn’t feel so authentic. All of this, along with a camera quality which feels home video-esque by today’s standards, serves to make the film feel like a time capsule. And yet the film features anxieties and emotional experiences that came with an emerging digital era (ie. the Internet), that still feel viscerally present and universal.
Each character in Me and You and Everyone We Know is searching for connection: the lonely Christine with Richard, the newly divorced Richard with Christine but also with his sons, Richard’s younger son, Robby, with the world at large, Richard’s older son, Peter, with his peers, the two teenage girls, Heather and Rebecca, with each other as they navigate their new and frightening sexualities, and the young girl next door to Richard with the future house and family she dreams of.
Yet, each person struggles to make this connection in a way that feels distinctly digital-age (though they don’t all reckon with technology directly): the teenage girls begin talking to a creepy older man, and Robby gets to chatting online with a stranger (though this person at least does not realize he’s a child); while Richard attempts to talk to his sons, their eyes remain glued to the computer screen (hilariously, they are often creating images out of commas, periods and semicolons, a skill which has definitely now died out); though Christine tries to pursue a relationship with Richard, he is riddled with fears and insecurities that make it difficult. Each character struggles to feel something in this world, to experience the world with other people, when the point of life is becoming increasingly convoluted.
Miranda is a triple threat with this film. Her writing, directing, and acting are all home runs. Her character, Christine, lights up the film; her performance art (in which she narrates conversations between couples in photos), her pure delight with Richard, and her overall charm, make her arguably the most “alive” character in the film and a welcome reminder of the type of joie de vivre everyone else is striving for. As a writer, she brilliantly packs wit and profundity into every moment. First you’re chuckling, then you’re hit with the most gut-wrenching statement you’ve ever heard, casually uttered by one of her characters. As a director, she manages to bring out an almost unprecedented level of authenticity from her actors. It helped that I didn’t know most of the actors (aside from John Hawkes and Miranda herself), but they all truly felt like regular people, in a neighborhood I might have known, grappling with everyday struggles in a very human way.
One of my favorite scenes in the film came near the beginning. Christine drives down the highway with her father. They notice that the car adjacent to them has a new goldfish in a bag, sitting on the roof. They roll down their window and warn the family in the car, but to further protect the goldfish, Christine’s father pulls in front of the car to make sure they don’t speed up or make sudden moves and knock the fish off. Christine worries, but her father says, “At least they know. At least we’re all together on this.”
That is exactly what the film is about, a message that has remained important to this day: no matter how much the Internet and technology works to pull us apart, we will always be in this together. We will always come back to human connection.
© Julia Lasker (1/29/24) Special for FF2 Media
LEARN MORE/DO MORE
Click here for Me and You and Everyone We Know streaming options on Just Watch.
Click here for Miranda’s complete filmology on IMDb.
CREDITS & PERMISSIONS
Featured Photo: ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW (2005) was Miranda July first feature film. She wrote, directed and starred in it, and she was rewarded at the Cannes Film Festival and the Sundance Film Festival, as well as lauded by film critics all around the world. Photo Credit: Photo 12 / Alamy Stock Photo. Image ID: A1387G
Middle Photo: Greta Gerwig and Miranda July at the 2015 premiere of MISTRESS AMERICA at the at Sundance NEXT FEST in LA. Greta starred in MISTRESS AMERICA and co-wrote the screenplay with her partner Noah Baumbach (who also directed it). Miranda was a guest. Photo Credit: WENN Rights Ltd. / Alamy Stock Photo. Image ID: F3KG84
Bottom Photo: Miranda July with Najarra Townsend in Miranda’s film ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW (2005). Photo 12 / Alamy Stock Photo. Image ID: B85NY0