Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005) Miranda July
Me and You and Everyone We Know by Miranda July, centers on the blossoming romantic relationship between Christine and Richard, while supporting characters try to connect with one another in surprising ways. They each push the boundaries of what is expected, and are tied together by their search for intimacy. Some gender issues the film deals with include masculine and feminine stereotypes and performative sexuality.
Richard works as a shoe salesman and is struggling as a newly single father of two boys. The character resists gender stereotypes by being emotive and openly vulnerable with Christine and others. Music, lighting and color work to identify Richard as unique in a number of ways. The pink shoes which Christine chooses, and which represent their relationship, are first seen settled upon a table display, which is otherwise beige. She writes “ME” and “YOU” on each of the two feet, and films them doing a dance, coming together tentatively, and drawing apart. In another scene, the set is very dark, and only Richard is spotlighted. At the same time, Richard’s character embraces some masculine stereotypes. Former wife Pam chastises him when he forgets to collect their son Robby from school, putting him in danger. He pays little attention to household chores or meal preparation, serving the children cereal for dinner as an afterthought. Pam has to intervene when Robby is frightened by an unknown noise because Richard is impatient and unable to comfort him.
Christine assertively pursues Richard, and seems to be motivated by her own desire for him, rather than by trying to attract him to her. She plays with gender in her performance art, trying on feminine and masculine voices, and relationship roles. When Richard seems repelled by her pursuit of him, she is undaunted, continuing to seek him out. She behaves in a way that is vulnerable, like Richard, but her demeanor suggests that she is at ease with her sexuality, in contrast with some of the other characters.
In one part of the film, Richard is puzzled by Pam’s nightgown, which is a list of affirmative words she enjoys reading to herself in the mirror. “I used to hate that nightgown. Other people have to look at it, but they can’t read it.” He has trouble understanding that Pam needs to reassure herself that she is “worthwhile” or “wonderful.” The gown represents the tension between trying to attract others and cultivating a solid sense of self.
For two young girls in the neighborhood, sexuality is all about appealing to others. They lie about their age and flirt with an adult man who responds by sticking sexually explicit messages to his window, inviting them in. They are concerned about their sexual skills and use Richard and Pam’s older son Peter to “practice.” Still, they feel insecure about their ability to please sexually, and seem completely out of touch with their own desires. It is a relief when the man seems frightened, hiding from the girls when they finally knock on his door. They run away, looking like gleeful children, despite their tight clothing and heavy make-up.
Other interesting characters populate Me and You and Everyone We Know, including a young girl who works dutifully to fill her hope chest, and Peter’s six year-old brother Robby, who unknowingly pursues a sexual relationship online. July uses the character of Christine to represent a version of femininity which is self-aware and grounded in her pursuit of pleasure and happiness. The girls have yet to cultivate the sense of self-worth which Pam seems to be working on and Christine has nearly mastered. Richard is struggling to make a real connection with his boys, but it is when he resists stereotypical gender norms that he is most appealing.