Well for the last forty years, American filmmakers have been making movies about disaffected young men who don’t want to be like everybody else but yet sure who they are themselves. These young men wear vaguely “adult” clothes like overcoats and suit jackets and they pine after girls while listening to Leonard Cohen, Paul Simon or Cat Stevens. THE ART OF GETTING BY is one of these movies.
Clip 1 / “A Year’s Worth of Homework”
This particular disaffected young man is George, played by Freddie Highmore. He smokes, sketches and skips class instead of doing homework. The girl he’s pining for is Sally, played by Emma Roberts.
Clip 2 / “Cutting School”
George and Sally go to the same private high school. On career day, George befriends an alumnus—Dustin, played by Michael Angarano—who becomes a mentor and confidante to George and Sally, though he has some ulterior motives.
Clip 4/ “You and George Belong Together”
Though Highmore and Angarano are both very good in their roles, THE ART OF GETTING BY has one crucial fault: the women in this movie aren’t characters, they’re plot devices. While the men of the film experience existential crisis after existential crisis, all the women seem to do is yearn for stability and make flighty decisions to keep the plot moving. In the end, this comes off as just another sad sack ode to the allure that cigarettes and Albert Camus have to a very near-sighted kind of young American males.
I’m also thumbs down on it. And Emma Roberts here, who is a good young actress, is a type. She is a pretty and popular girl who is misunderstood and is tired of being pretty and popular and so the Freddie Highmore character gets her. He keeps talking about how miserable he is and how he hates life, but he keeps saying it, you never actually believe it and carrying around the stranger like it’s a purse, doesn’t really give us a full character.
Yeah, and I believe he’s seen reading it at the beginning of the school year and then he’s still reading it at the end of the school year
It’s not that long of a book. Yeah, he’s reading it in the cafeteria by himself.
What a slow reader, he’s got so much free time skipping class, why doesn’t he just finish the book?
And the whole thing with the artist character is also very cliché I mean you know he’s going to be a shady and duplicitous dude from the very beginning, everyone here is a type, not just the women.
Yeah, everyone is type, but I feel like the male actors are maybe given a bit more to work with. I don’t really feel like Emma Roberts can work her way out of the character that she’s been given who’s so inconsistent and who’s motivations are so vague and, you know, she seems to just be there to create tension between two male characters. She doesn’t seem like a person and neither really does the character of the mother.
Oh, the mom shows up drunk in the middle of the day and hits on him in a negligee, why, for fun, ok.