Julia Holtzman, “Don’t Look @ Me”

I just saw Me and You and Everyone We Know by Miranda July for the first time. If you haven’t seen it, watch this goldfish death scene, and you’ll get the gist. The movie was a perfect addendum to a day full of strange encounters and interesting characters.

Six of those people live in the same woman, whose name is Julia Holtzman. These identities, from a police officer to an Amy Winehouse lookalike, are tacked in a quirky lineup along the wall of the Laverne Krause this week. They’re connected by a long red line of lipstick, and point to a television screen.

On it is an old woman hobbling along a busy sidewalk. She turns toward the camera and reveals a smooth face. It’s Julia. She starts to cross a street but drops her cane, and a passing gentleman scoops it up for her. For a second he seems to look into her eyes, but then he has vanished from the frame. Did he even see her at all?

With every flicker of the television screen, Julia’s identity fractures. Suddenly she’s a spy of some sort, sitting conspicuously at a cafe in a fake mustache and fedora. Then she’s just Julia, peering into a mirror and scribbling the apparent title of the piece, “Don’t Look @ Me.”

In the row of portraits, every character stares straight into the camera- and nearly leans out of the frame- except Julia herself. She stares into a mirror, pensive and vulnerable. The message seems to be, “Don’t look at me, look at them.” But her worried eyes reveal a person who, above all, wants to be seen for exactly who she is.

Holtzman has promise as an actress (her often manic characters would fit perfectly in an SNL skit), but someone who can so confidently be me, you and everyone we know has a bigger challenge first. She must learn to be herself. And she knows it.


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