Getting to Know You (1999)

Unrated   |    |  Comedy, Drama

Getting to Know You (1999) Poster

A chance encounter alters a teenage girl's perception of herself and her outlook on life.


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22 November 2010 | mjneu59
| quality film never found its legs
Scrape together a few thousand dollars, call in a few personal favors, enlist your friends and family to work nights and weekends, and the result might be a movie like this: too small and personal for widespread theatrical release, but ideal for any discriminating cable TV network devoted to showcasing true independent cinema.

The film is set (for the most part) in an upstate New York small town bus station, where every glancing encounter has a story behind it. Private narratives of this sort are what define us to ourselves, and because the screenplay was adapted from the writings of Joyce Carol Oates these particular stories describe a series of downbeat, dysfunctional family dramas.

At some point in its evolution the project might have been intended as a stage play, with the wordy, meaningful script and one-act location (opened up by flashbacks and speculative digressions into the overheard lives of passing strangers) suggesting a small theater piece. Sympathetic characters, natural performances, and a welcome lack of hyperbolic direction make it a quietly devastating experience, but with at least a token glimmer of hope in the final scene to help relieve the often oppressive details. Michael Brook's delicate guitar études add just the right touch of atmosphere.

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