Let me start by saying that I feel like because I made a whole video about my feelings from this film and because I didn’t give an opinion on the film in the video, a majority of people are likely going to think that I really loved this film possibly more than I actually did. I can understand why someone would not like The Art of Getting By. It was not the best film I have ever seen and it is not the most impressive piece of cinema, but I’ll just say right now that anything that makes me think as much as this film as deserves my adoration and stamp of approval.
The Art of Getting By is the story of eighteen year old George, played by Freddie Highmore, who reminds me all too well of my brother and other boys I have known in that he sees no value in anything. Caught up in a bit of Holden Caulfield syndrome, he is approached by never single, fairly typical classmate Sally, played by Emma Roberts. One of the wonderful things about this film is that you know these characters, yet they definitely have something to bring to the table. You knew them once, but they have come back in trendier outfits, smoking cigarettes with a bit more mystique. The story follows their senior year in which they grow to be close friends, he slowly realizes that he may not graduate and they both deal with issues at home. It sounds typical and, in a way, it is, but this film felt unique.
The backdrop of New York City cannot go unmentioned, for it starred alongside Highmore and Roberts, who did not do too shabby themselves (except for Freddie’s accent, that was pretty bad). The film looked pretty beautiful, to say the least. The acting of some of the adults was hard to buy and there were a few named characters that were fairly pointless (her friends Zoe and…something else), but I really did enjoy the film. But what I found most fascinating about the film is how much it felt like high school and how much it felt like experiences I have had.
The cinematography, with help by (more or less) first time director Gavin Wiesen, really put you in the middle of these experiences. This is an opinion you will not likely find elsewhere in the midst of its one star reviews, but I found the realism really potent. I could relate. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that I grew up in the same generation and age as George and Sally and therefore understand what they are going through more specifically. I feel like a lot of older reviewers who grew up without cell phones may not realize what it is like to struggle to form the perfect text or to jump at every phone vibration. They may not understand to the same extent that I do how living in a city means that you practically have to have a fake ID to have a good time with other teenagers at night and when you don’t, as I do not, you end up spending a lot of nights on Netflix. Just little things that are written off as silly, over the top and unrealistic by others are seen by me as relatable in some ways. This is a film for this generation in that way. A film for those who still remember exactly how firsts felt and how hard it was to get up and go to school when it all seemed pointless.
So that is how I see the film. I did not just see George get drunk for the first time, I felt it. I did not watch the two of them grow closer, but felt it as I have felt with so many dear friends. It was a film to feel and remember and for those who cannot remember those first because they are blocking them out, because they were too long ago or because they simply aren’t willing to open their memory a bit, they may not enjoy this. They may only see the awkward scenes, Freddie’s awful accent and another story about teenagers. I saw more and I felt more and while I will reiterate, this is not a film that I will watch over and over again and fall more in love with, I can appreciate it for what it was and what it made me think about. Which, in my opinion, is enough.