When Richard (John Hawkes), a newly single shoe salesman, meets the lonely artist Christine (Miranda July), he panics, despite being captivated by her. Meanwhile, Richard's six-year-old Robby (Brandon Ratcliff), is having a risqué Internet romance with a stranger, and his fourteen-year-old brother Peter (Miles Thompson) becomes the guinea pig for neighborhood girls practicing for their future of romance and marriage.

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A solid debut from Miranda July.

A little film called You And Me And Everyone We Know won some big awards this year at two major international film festivals, including the Camera D'Or and Critic's Prize for 'Best Film' at Cannes, and the Audience Prize at Sundance. It was written and directed by American video performance artist Miranda July who also has a starring role. Although July portrays herself as kind of an 'accidental tourist' in the world of film, greeting with genunine surprise the accolades and critical largesse her first feature has garnered (also reflected funnily enough before the fact in the nervous character she plays), July clearly puts her multimedia arts background to good use in this strangely compelling little film.

Set in the LA suburbs July plays Christine, a struggling video artist who drives 'Elder Cabs' (cabs for the elderly) for a living. Her upbeat, whimsical nature is continually dampened by disappointment in not only the reception of her work from the local contemporary art gallery but a deep sense of longing for happiness. Relief from this existential angst presents itself in the form of shoe salesman David (Deadwood's awesome John Hawkes). David looks more like someone who's been on a perpetual round-the-world trip, weary, worn out, but with a sunny disposition in spite of things. He too is a ragged intellectual with some serious life struggles of his own: keeping sanity in his dead-end job for one, and likewise the love of his two sons teenager Peter (Miles Thompson) and the younger Robby (Brandon Ratcliff) who seem lost in a world of their own on-line. Positioned around them are a myriad of odd neighbourhood characters including precocious teens Heather (Natasha Slayton) and Rebecca (Najarra Townsend), who, in a peverse little competition, are super-keen to prove which one is the best at sex.

This modestly made indie maps psychological distances between people (so close and yet so far seems to be the conclusion). Like Rose Troche's similar, sculptural The Safety Of Objects (2002), it is a meditation on disconnection and love in suburbia/the modern world. We seem to be a community of individuals hiding behind objects like computer screens. Although it's loaded with quirk the film manages to avoid being annoying or twee with its honesty and insights into life. (The comments July makes on the ego-driven, coldly anti-human climate of the contemporary art world are particularly hilarious, and surely involve some payback!) July also drops some potentially transgressive subplots into the mix but again defuses the shock value with compassion, unlike, for example, Todd Solodnz's recent Palindromes, a filmmaker to whom July has been compared, only with heart and a less aggressive, sneering academic agenda.

The bottom line is that You And Me And Everyone We Know is a solid debut for a filmmaker with plenty of interesting things to say about contemporary life. One of them being 'it ain't easy', especially in this digital age where being of the flesh is being increasingly challenged. No matter. July still seems optimistic, as definitively reflected in Michael Andrews' sparse electronic score. There is hope it seems, if her film's oddly mapped, 'accidental' paths to relationships and happiness are anything to go by.