Me and You and Everyone We Know

Writer-director Miranda July’s feature debut isn’t without flaws, but it has such a disarming, sweetly ingenious presence of mind that it seems like a miracle. The vast array of her thematic concerns includes sexual and technological curiosity, fine-art pretense, and identity as a function of sought approval — yet July shows great restraint in subordinating her satiric impulses to more productively humane ones. Most prominent among the movie’s luminous narrative vignettes is the halting romance between a conceptual artist (played by the director, who is also a conceptual artist) and a shoe salesman (John Hawkes). July’s dramatization is full of surprises, and her fertile imagination is tempered with rare poetic intelligence. Rather than doling out artful ideas with reckless abandon, she takes the trouble to build them into characters. The result, for all its affinity with the rough-hewn and shapeless, is a kind of lapidary perfection, ennobling its material and renewing the prospects of American moviemaking.