The Art of Getting By is not an
endurance test. Many critics might feel inclined to peg it as
such because of its youthful energy and stars, but the film is
actually a tad better than its advertisements suggested. It's a
story about learning to grow up, experience life, and live up to
the potential that is laid out before you. It's one of those
quirky indie-movies that is either adored or detested. The
question of the day remains: Will it appeal to you?
The film isn't exactly
what one might be expecting. The cover art for this release
mentions that its "From
the Studio that Brought You Juno and (500) Days of Summer",
but this isn't either of those films and it never intends to be
one of them. It never once focuses on Ellen Page struggling to
decide if she wants to have a baby fathered by Michael Cera
during her teen-life crisis and it equally doesn't spend time
focusing on Joseph Gordon-Levitt having girl trouble with the
adorably cute Zooey Deschanel. OK, so I seriously doubt anyone
with genuine film-fandom would pick up the case and presume
either of those odd possibilities (one would hope so...) but the fact
remains that this isn't that easy a movie to pigeonhole.
The story begins by
introducing its lead male protagonist, George (Freddie
Highmore), and we get some immediately quirky voice-over
narration which helps explain his current place in life. He is
basically a young guy with no idea what it is he's supposed to
be doing in life. That pretty fairly sums it up. He doesn't have
that much interest in school or assignments, hanging out with
others, and figuring out his future. The way George sees things:
What's the point if you're
just working towards your inevitable tombstone? That's certainly
very morose and not too likeable a sentiment but it's
unfortunately a thought that probably is processing through far
too many young people until a moment of realization can grab at
soul-searching hearts and minds.
George doesn't seem
to see what truly matters even when it is staring at him every
single day in the form of a caring mother, a beautiful New York
sunset, and a school that can be the source of learning and
adventure. He doesn't yet recognize the endless possibilities in
life and of living. Then George meets Sally (Emma Roberts) and
things slowly begin to be possible for him in a whole new way.
The pair begins a friendship and things quickly seem to be
blossoming for them in a romantic way. Sally is also undergoing
some huge personal questions though and she doesn't want to ruin
the friendship by having sex come between them. Sally, quite
unlike George, seems to be generally more comfortable with who
she is and with her place in life. She enjoys partying, hanging
out with friends, and meeting new people. But she still sees
something in George that reminds her of who she is inside too.
The story ends up
transforming into a tale of friendship and love between George
and Sally. This is the primary element of the story. Yet the
film encapsulates many feelings found with youth and it carries
these emotions with a delicate balance that is uncommon. There
might be some elements that feel too familiar and
cliché-driven but the heart of this picture isn't any of
those things. This is a movie that comes from the personal
experiences of first-time writer/director Gavin Wiesen and he
wears his jubilant heart on his sleeve with real honor.
I thought the film was
entertaining and witty. The characters were often charming. It
was beautifully filmed with cinematography by Ben Kutchins. The
skylight of New York was so beautiful and the location-shots
were so carefully done. This film has the benefit of never
feeling too confined by the common budget limitations imposed on
indie-movies. Location shooting made all the difference.
The selection of songs
and the breezy score used to accompany artistic camera-shots
from Wiesen (photographed by Kutchins) also added to the
enjoyment of The Art of
Getting By. The music definitely added something special
to the movie. It seemed like every selection was worthwhile.
The performances are
strong from such young actors. Freddie Highmore is an actor that
finds some interesting debate among many movie fans. As a child
star he was either an adored favorite or considered something of
an annoyance. He's a pretty talented young actor, in my
estimation, and he delivered one of his best performances with
this role. It helps that he plays well against the performance
by Emma Roberts, who already seems destined to find even more
success with future acting-gigs after the strong run that was: The Art of Getting By,
Scream 4, and It's Kind of a Funny Story.
She is a beauty with an immense charm and actual acting skills.
The Art of Getting By might not be
perfect, and it sometimes strays close to material that feels
all too familiar, but when it feels like experimenting a bit
with the world it creates it captures some magic that I haven't
seen in this type of movie recently. It's a worthy and enjoyable
effort that deserves some extra attention.
Fox has done a fantastic job with the transfer for The Art of Getting By.
The film is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of
has many great shots focusing on New York areas and each moment
seems to highlight the beauty of the city with ease. The colors
are strong without ever appearing over-saturated. This film has
modern sensibilities that stand out distinctively with such
keenly focused photography. It doesn't disappoint. The transfer
is reasonably sharp. There is no damage whatsoever with regards
to the print quality. The AVC encoding at 23 MBPS is enough to
make for a great video presentation.
The audio doesn't
slouch. That was definitely a surprise. The sound mix remembers
to use score and song to emphasis certain moments in the film
and the music certainly helped to highlight different aspects of
the production. The film also uses the surrounds more often than
anticipated. The aural soundstage is enveloping: clean, crisp,
and pleasant. With the English language 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
track The Art of Getting
By sounds fantastic.
audio is also provided in 5.1 surround sound. Subtitles are
provided in English for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (SDH),
Spanish, and French.
The only substantial
inclusion is the audio commentary by writer/director
Gavin Wiesen. This is certainly worth listening to for fans of
the film who want some insight into how the story came into
being and about the production and filming process.
Fox Movie Channel Presents: In Character with
Freddie Highmore (4:03) is just an
incredibly brief interview with the leading actor. He provides
some insight into his thought process behind performing the
character and why he felt the film was relevant.MPEG-2, Letterboxed
HBO First Look: The Making of the Art of Getting
By (AVC, 12:31) is short
making of featurette containing plenty of interview footage with
the films cast and crew. This reuses some of the same footage
found in the other extras, but it also has quite a bit that is
new. This wasn't nearly as informative as some of the other HBO First Look's I
have seen in the past but it did provide some nice interview
New York Slice of Life (AVC, 2:34) and On
Young Love (AVC, 2:48) are short interview segments about
Theatrical Trailer (AVC, 2:15)
The Art of Getting By
wasn't a challenge to sit
through. It's actually a pretty sweet-natured movie about
growing up and finding yourself. It's not groundbreaking on any
level but the film is true to itself and has some nice moments.
The performances are also considerably strong. The Blu-ray
presentation is excellent. If The Art of Getting By
sounds like an enjoyable movie to you then it's well worth
watching... to see for yourself if it's that special cup of tea
that appropriately remembers your past or present memories of
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.