Fatalistic teenager George Zingavoy (Freddie Highmore) is a master at just barely getting by. In fact, he’s practically turned it into an art form—making it through the entire school year without doing a shred of work. But when George meets a beautiful and complicated girl named Sally (Emma Roberts), he discovers a kindred spirit who turns his slacker world upside down. Their quirky and unexpected romance may just inspire George to do the unthinkable—get off his butt and chase after his dreams.
The Art of Getting By
is a coming-of-age film that explores first love and the mystery of personal motivation. Freddie Highmore is completely believable as George Zinavoy, a high school senior with a talent for drawing who lacks direction and motivation. George is super-sensitive to the differences between himself and others, considers his unavoidable mortality a reason to reject schoolwork and societal pressures to achieve, and has long been content with doing the absolute minimum in spite of his inherent capableness. While his mother and stepfather, teachers, and even a mentoring artist have all failed to find a way to motivate George, meeting fellow student Sally (Emma Roberts) stirs something in him that he can't quite describe or acknowledge. Their relationship is certainly complicated, but ultimately it leads George to look deep within to discover what's truly important, to set personal goals, and to embark on a course of action that will make those goals a reality. Writer Gavin Wiesen directs what he describes as a semiautobiographical, yet universal film about coming of age, filming in his hometown of New York City and featuring two talented performers in Highmore and Roberts. The pacing of the film deliberately mirrors George's inner turmoil: it creeps along with periods of relative inaction emphasizing George's internal conflict and reflection, but is peppered with brief hormonal bursts of action--and somehow the unusual pacing ends up being quite effective. Bonus features include commentary by Wiesen; brief 2- to 4-minute featurettes on filming in New York, young love, and Highmore; and a longer 12-minute making-of segment. --Tami Horiuchi