Owen Gleiberman
July 14, 2000 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Getting to Know You

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
Unrated
runtime
91 minutes
performer
Heather Matarazzo, Michael Weston
director
Lisanne Skyler
distributor
Sundance Channel
author
Lisanne Skyler
genre
Drama

We gave it a B+

Joyce Carol Oates, with her florid gothic feel for casual psychodramatic horror, should probably be adapted for the movies more often. In Getting to Know You, director Lisanne Skyler interpolates three Oates short stories to form a tapestry of middle-class violence and flight. Despite a few seams, the movie holds you in its steadily intensifying grip.

Heather Matarazzo, whose puffy-lipped quizzicality has grown more sensual and commanding since ”Welcome to the Dollhouse,” has the pivotal role of Judith, a thoughtful, passive teenager who is waiting, along with her brother (Zach Branff), in an upstate New York bus station. We get vivid flashes of the domestic snake pit that these two siblings have left behind: life with their parents, a pair of alcoholic ballroom dancers (played, with charismatic force, by Bebe Neuwirth and Mark Blum) who have dropped off the bottom rung of showbiz. Meanwhile, Jimmy (Michael Weston), another kid at the station, spins further tales of everyday destruction, which lend the film an elegant, brooding symmetry.

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