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'ME AND YOU' DRAWS US IN.

Byline: Glenn Whipp Film Critic

'ME AND YOU and Everyone We Know''?

At first glance, the oddball lost souls sleepwalking through unnamed Los Angeles neighborhoods in Miranda July's quirky debut feature don't seem like us or anyone we know at all - unless one of your neighbors is the type who sets his hand ablaze to show his kids that ``amazing things'' can really happen.

But the point for July - writer, director and star of this Cannes and Sundance audience favorite - is to have these damaged people stand for a universal longing for human connection. In ``Me and You,'' the kids want to grow up fast (one young girl has assembled a hope chest full of kitchenware to give to the man - boy? - of her dreams), and the adults yearn for a way to return to looking at the world with childlike wonder.

That makes for some interesting encounters when the two groups mix. Sad-sack shoe salesman Richard (John Hawkes from HBO's ``Deadwood) asks his sons, 14-year-old Peter (Miles Thompson) and precocious 6-year-old Robby (Brandon Ratcliff), if they'd figure him for a guy with two kids if, say, they just saw him walking down the street. The newly separated Richard spends his downtime watching Nick Jr. and performing the aforementioned fire stunt, a ``ceremony'' in self-immolation that he hopes inspires his boys to see life's possibilities.

Meanwhile, Christine (July) senses serious possibilities when she meets Richard while trying on a pair of shoes. Noting that her skin is chafing at the ankles, he tells her, ``You think you deserve this pain, but you don't.'' If he meant it as a pick-up line, it worked. Christine is soon stalking Richard, which is but one of the man's problems. Unbeknownst to him, a couple of underage teen girls are using his older son for their sexual experimentations, and young Robby is frequenting an Internet chat room, causing much excitement with his use of the word ``poop.''

It sounds a little icky, but July makes the material into a strangely affecting and often very funny meditation on modern-day alienation. This doesn't mean that there isn't something creepy about the emotionless and often artificial way she presents her characters and situations, but, taken together, the movie's elements manage to coalesce into something that possesses the very things its characters dream about - enchantment and wonder.

Glenn Whipp, (818) 713-3672

glenn.whipp(at)dailynews.com

ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW - Three stars

(R: disturbing sexual content involving children, language)

Starring: John Hawkes, Miranda July, Miles Thompson, Brandon Ratcliff.

Director: Miranda July.

Running time: 1 hr. 33 min.

Playing: Landmark's Nuart Theater in West Los Angeles.

In a nutshell: Cited for its ``original'' vision at Sundance, Miranda July's debut feature barely skirts preciousness in its strangely affecting look at modern alienation.

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Miranda July finds herself smitten with a shoe salesman who notices the chafing on her ankles in ``Me and You and Everyone We Know,'' which she also wrote and directed.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 24, 2005
Words:499
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