Movie Review: The Art of Getting By

3 Sep

When this cropped up at Sundance I was interested. I wasn’t dying to see it, not exactly the top of my watch list but it made me curious. Then the first trailers and clips came out and it turned me off. I was surprised with what I saw.

Freddie Highmore (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) and Emma Roberts (Nancy Drew) star as two senior high-schoolers in New York. Highmore’s character, George, bunks off school to smoke, listen to music or just do nothing, When he is actually in school he doesn’t spend time doing any work whatsoever. He never hands in homework but instead spends time doodling on his books and he’s not bad. Roberts decides to hang out with him one day, and it spirals into a friendship. This is a romantic comedy however, with teenagers so what do you expect? They have feelings but they’re never expressed, they have a falling out and we follow the course of this friendship.

Highmore who is as British as they come (in a Tom Hooper, David Cameron kind of way) does a very good job of the American accent and if it wasn’t for his previously mentioned David Cameron look, he could pass for an American without question. He’s not bad in this and I think the guy can act. If it wasn’t for the half-baked, lacklustre plot that is presented here. Roberts isn’t that impressive especially when she’s compared to her fellow young star, Highmore.

This is director and writer’s debut (Gavin Wiesen) in a feature length film. There are a lot of missed opportunities in the plot. The relationship between George and his art teacher is never explored and is something that could have added a lot more interest into the film especially since he is a very good artist. George is presented as being a really capable student but I would’ve liked to see a bit more of the disappointment or frustration from teachers.

The spirit is there for the movie and there is a vision but I don’t know if he’s quite got the vision executed as he wished. The steady cam and the filming style is unique and works for the movie but the plot just doesn’t fulfil. Sure, if you’re comparing this to Twilight and other New York set TV teen-drama Gossip Girl, then this is better, but if you’re comparing it to quality cinema this is very disappointing.

It’s not quite an 18% on Rotten Tomatoes but it’s not exceptionally good. Highmore clearly has a lot to show and perhaps Wiesen is just learning but all and allan interesting concept that doesn’t live up.

Score: 2.5/5

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