The wording of the Special Jury Prize awarded at this year’s Sundance Film Festival to Miranda July for her breathtaking feature debut, Me and You and Everyone We Know, is kind of klutzy — ”for originality of vision” suggests a fashion-forward taste in eyewear rather than a superior quality of filmmaking. But it’ll have to do, since definition eludes the delicate pleasures of this marvelous, idiosyncratic movie collage — the best drama I saw at Sundance — from a doe-eyed artist whose projects to date have jumped from radio plays to short stories to performance pieces to interactive video art. (Even her name sounds like a piece of fiction or a one-act play.) In Me and You, July’s theme is the human longing for connection, distilled into a handful of touching, weird, everyday trial-and-error encounters among a collection of interrelated characters who could exist only in — well, in a Miranda July story. The filmmaker herself plays a video artist (she drives elderly people in a taxi service to pay the rent) who is attracted to a shoe salesman (Deadwood’s John Hawkes) raising two boys after having separated from his wife. And I can’t even begin to describe the bizarro yet tenderly ordinary happenstances that befall the boys, the most extraordinary of which involves that powerful identity-disguising phenomenon, the online chat room. And the word poop.
July’s handmade movie is so unique and so true to the artist’s elementally feminine self, both in form and in content (it also picked up a batch of awards at Cannes), that it’s impossible not to respond strongly to it. Or, heck, against it, if that’s what her originality of vision evokes. Either way, hers is an artwork not to be missed.