The Art of Getting By (Blu-ray)
George (Freddie Highmore) is an odd recluse who spends his senior year roaming the halls of his high school, illustrating his text books with nonsense and avoiding any and all homework assignments that involve thinking or the exertion of energy. He feels that all authority figures who force him to apply himself in activities that do not interest him in any way is a meaningless exercise. Always very polite, he respectfully declines their constant encouragement to complete his studies and is on the brink of expulsion from school. Couple this empty attitude towards life with a nagging mom and obnoxious father-in-law and you have a typical 17-year-old kid who struggles with the purpose of life.
And then the girl enters the picture. Sally is the popular kid with the world at her fingertips. She finds an unlikely friendship in George and slowly begins to realize that they have a lot more in common than she originally thought. He may be weird, but it’s his uniqueness that she’s drawn to. The pair obviously has feelings for each other but neither is willing to step out of their comfort zone. George likes life in his shell. Sally is afraid to love deeply because she’ll get hurt. In the end, they must figure out a way to live life instead of sitting back and waiting for it to happen.
THE ART OF GETTING BY is a classic story of what any teenager would be struggling with in the final stages of high school. Kids deal with the uncertainty of their future and the reality that they are about to be adults. Perhaps some face problems at home and are forced to grow up too soon. And everyone goes through the expectations, elations and maybe even heartbreak of someone in love. George doesn’t notice much in life. But he noticed Sally. And she introduces him to a world he never knew.
Sally introduces him to New York City, and it’s no Big Apple we would ever recognize. I really appreciated Wiesen’s deliberate exclusion of all the big touristy landmarks of the City. George and Sally were safe, familiar and comfortable on the streets, in the clubs and restaurants. There was no big moment on top of the Empire State Building or hailing of reckless cabs in Times Square. These kids were in their own neighborhoods experiencing everyday life through the eyes of the other.
Emma Roberts played the part of a lovable popular girl with ease. I have no doubt that Sally would be friends with anyone in the audience. Freddie Highmore has an intensity about him that makes you hold your breath. With one whisper, you are pulled in to his world. The same little boy who won the hearts of Willy Wonka and his chocolate factory is all grown up. This may be random, but I was impressed by how beautifully he cried.
THE ART OF GETTING BY does not offer high action car chases or CGI designed bad guys. Although the story was a bit dull at times, I was able to appreciate Wiesen’s willingness to be transparent with his own story in order for the viewing audience to get an accurate picture of what goes on in the inner workings of a teenage boy.
Video: 1080p High Definition: New York City practically came alive in this film. I loved how he used different times of day to reflect George’s mood and lackadaisical nature.
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1: With this being an independent film about a brooding kid alone in his room with his thoughts, the audio didn’t stand out enough for me to have an opinion.
Audio Commentary with Director Gavin Wiesen: I found it interesting that Gavin wrote and directed this piece as a self biography. He was able to give Freddie Highmore direct pointers on what to feel and how to act because he had been there and done that.
New York Slice of Life (2:34): Freddie Highmore and Emma Roberts talk about how New York City was a huge part of the movie. They both mentioned the fact that you had to be at the to of your game every day because the shooting schedule was so short and you only have so much time and daylight to do what you want/need to do for the take.
On Young Love (2:48): Freddie Highmore and Emma Roberts talk about George and Sally’s odd relationship and how neither understands what the other one wants.
In Character with Freedie Highmore (4:03): Freddie talks about how Gavin helped him develop George’s character. He goes on to say that George is “every teenage boy dealing with teenage issues.”
The Making of THE ART OF GETTING BY (12:31): Gavin Wiesen talks about his high school career and what it means to be on the cusp of adulthood. He wanted real 17-year-old actors playing the parts and found that Emma and Freddie were perfectly cast.