Based on Joyce Carol Oates’s 1966 short story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?,” this 1985 debut narrative feature by Joyce Chopra (Joyce at 34, The Lemon Sisters), scripted by her husband Tom Cole, retains the palpitant trepidation of Oates’s text to an unnerving degree. Laura Dern, in her first lead film role, stars as Connie, a 15-year-old on summer break from school. In the film’s first half, Connie and her friends hang out at the mall, go to the movies, and try to meet older guys, the excitement of sex and romance looming on the horizon of adulthood. Meanwhile, Connie is at odds with her family: her beleaguered mother, played by Mary Kay Place, is particularly inimical, while her father (Levon Helm) and twentysomething sister (Elizabeth Berridge) are unsure how to relate to her. The latter half of the film is devoted to the action that comprises most of Oates’s story; a menacing older man named Arnold Friend (Treat Williams) shows up at Connie’s house uninvited and coerces her into going on a drive with him. This passage is wholly terrifying, largely due to its distinct tonal shift from the first part of the film and the almost gothic sensibility it exudes as Friend intimidates Connie into complying. Cole’s script is incisive—what’s not culled directly from the source material is nevertheless attuned to it, and the film feels literary as a result. Chopra’s direction is adroit, completely in step with the mysterious subtleties of both Oates’s story and adolescence. To that end, teenaged Dern is incredible, all long limbs and uncertainty. James Glennon’s cinematography evokes the feel of a Sweet Valley High cover against the rural Northern California setting; James Taylor was the film’s music director, and his songs here serve to reinforce the perception of innocence before and after it’s corrupted.