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The Way We Get By

4.7 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Award-winning film, The Way We Get By, is a deeply moving story about life and how to live it. Beginning as a seemingly idiosyncratic story about troop greeters - a group of senior citizens who gather daily at a small airport to thank American soldiers departing and returning from Iraq, the film quickly turns into a moving, unsettling and compassionate story about aging, loneliness, war and mortality. When its three subjects aren't at the airport, they wrestle with their own problems: failing health, depression, mounting debt. Joan, a grandmother of eight, has a deep connection to the soldiers she meets. The sanguine Jerry keeps his spirits up even as his personal problems mount. And the veteran Bill, who clearly has trouble taking care of himself, finds himself contemplating his own death. Seeking out the telling detail rather than offering sweeping generalizations, the film carefully builds stories of heartbreak and redemption, reminding us how our culture casts our elders, and too often our soldiers, aside. More important, regardless of your politics, The Way We Get By, celebrates three unsung heroes who share their love with strangers who need and deserve it. Awards include: WINNER - SXSW Special Jury Award WINNER - Full Frame Audience Award WINNER - Best Documentary Phoenix Film Fest WINNER - Best Documentary Atlanta Film Fest WINNER - Best Documentary Newport Intl. Film Fest WINNER - Audience Award Newport Intl. Film Fest WINNER - Best Documentary Little Rock Film Fest WINNER - Standing Up Cleveland Intl. Film Fest. WINNER - Audience Award Camden Film Festival


SXSW 2009: 10 Films To Put On Your Schedule Erik Childress, eFilmCritic.com / WGN Radio - I absolutely loved this film... Someday video stores and online rental sites may have their own sections dedicated to films about the current conflict in Iraq. Hopefully the veterans of this current quagmire will be able to find happier memories and things to look forward to on their DVD shelves rather than just another reminder of where they've been. Unless that movie happens to be Aron Gaudet's The Way We Get By as its just the kind of reminder our men and women over there could use. It's the story of a group of senior citizens from Bangor, Maine who spend many mornings and evenings going to the airport to shake the hands of the departing and returning soldiers from Iraq. Bangor's airway serves as our main passageway between the U.S. and Middle East and these well-wishers keep track of every one of them and do whatever they can to provide a little bit of homespun hope on their long journey. Bill Knight, Joan Gaudet and Jerry Mundy are just three of the subjects that should be given immediate sainthood by the time the credits roll; seniors who are far from their own problems involving foreclosure, health and, in the case of Miss Gaudet, a granddaughter facing her own trip into this mess. Can it possibly be selfish to provide a little bit of good cheer to those who mostly remain nameless to anyone outside their circle of friends and family unless they return with an American flag draped over them? Every selfless act is going to make someone feel good, but where The Way We Get By becomes more than just a meet-and-greet for self-gratification is within the contrast of its subjects against the finality we hope is coming later rather than sooner. Just as our service folk unfortunately become, the elderly are another group of people that society and even our government would just as easily forget about if they weren't reminded of their struggles. Bill Knight is not just another lonely greeter but also a veteran of war himself. Joan faces the unnerving fear of her granddaughter not having a chance to be welcomed back. Jerry Mundy has already seen his son die tragically and may be facing death again soon. These remarkable individuals contribute to a story that is not just indescribably moving but is a timeless metaphor for our country. I absolutely loved this film and I'm hoping that when you're done wiping away the tears and the Q&A has finished, each of you will have a chance to see some of these people on the way out and shake their hands. --Erik Childress, WGN Radio

Chris Barsanti, The Hollywood Reporter It's the deep well of compassion behind it that helps make The Way We Get By such a stirring experience. In its heartfelt portrayal of three seniors who stave off their own mortality by steadfastly and cheerfully greeting every plane of returning soldiers landing at their small-town airport, Aron Gaudet's film rages with quiet dignity against the dying of the light. With Hollywood dramas doing their best to ignore the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and the stream of non-fiction films having dried up to a trickle, films like Aron Gaudet's wrenching, The Way We Get By, are even more important than they otherwise would be. This isn't to say that Gaudet's documentary has even a hint of an eat-your-broccoli lecture to it-that couldn't be further from the truth. But while watching the film it's hard to escape the sense that one is witnessing a dispatch from a lonely outpost of the forgotten wars. Gaudet's film follows three seniors in Bangor, Maine, who have spent much of the last several years at the airport (a modest facility whose International status seems mostly honorary) greeting soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The two men and one woman are part of a loose volunteer network who show up any time of the day or night to offer hugs, cookies, phone calls home to Mom, and the occasional off-color joke to the dazed youngsters waiting for the flight that will actually take them home. If Gaudet had been content to simply show some well-meaning volunteer work and the soldiers' undeniably grateful response, he wouldn't have had much of a film. But under his skillful and patient control, The Way We Get By, becomes a bracing portrait of three fascinating individuals who use this work as a means to keep living. The widowed 86-year-old World War II veteran Bill Knight might be heavily in debt and stuck in a fantastically decrepit house (his housekeeping is of Grey Gardens caliber), but standing under fluorescent lighting and giving hearty well-wishes seems to be what he lives for. The same goes for the breezily convivial and barrel-chested Jerry Mundy, 73, whose personal assessments are as forceful 'If I weren't so old and fat, I'd go [to fight]' as they are revealing 'I don't know what I'll do when they all come home.' Not surprisingly, Gaudet's 75-year-old mother Joan provides one of the film's most potent elements. A saintly-seeming worrier who has to use a walker but doesn't let that stop her from driving out to the airport in the middle of the night, Joan appears close to tears just at the thought of yet more soldiers getting on planes (something she can't watch). It's this kind of soul-sickening concern, and the deep well of compassion behind it, that helps make, The Way We Get By, such a stirring experience. As the three volunteers dutifully smile and chat with all those who have escaped death on faraway battlefields, they confront mortality on their own. Jerry waits in his truck by the airport with his faithful dog, watching for the troop planes and trying not to remember the tragic demise of his son. Meanwhile, Bill fights off prostate cancer, and Joan tries not to think about her granddaughter Amy, soon deploying to Iraq as a medevac pilot. No matter what they have to contend with, though, the only thing these three would really seem to complain about is the war itself, which continually lurks in the background of this bright but death-shrouded film as a horrible thing indeed but nevertheless a reason to keep getting up in the morning. --Chris Barsanti, The Hollywood Reporter

A selfless salute to the troops The Way We Get By, writer-director Aron Gaudet's deeply felt look at three selfless elderly Maine residents who serve as troop greeters at the Bangor International Airport (a gateway point of U.S. departure and entry), is filled with a rare honesty and intimacy that makes for a rewarding, if largely heartbreaking, film experience. Gaudet respectfully profiles the waning lives of his mother, Joan Gaudet, 75, and her co-volunteers Jerry Mundy, 74, and Bill Knight, 87, who trek to the airport at all hours to welcome returning troops and bid goodbye to those leaving for Iraq and Afghanistan. These three widowed seniors' civic duties give their days a much-needed structure and purpose, along with a diversion from their financial, health and emotional setbacks. For the matriarchal Joan, these troubles include bad knees and worry over two grandchildren's imminent deployments to Iraq; for chatty Jerry, it's heart disease and the aging of his beloved dog; eccentric World War II veteran Bill must deal with cancer, massive debt and depression. These everyday heroes, who never pass judgment on our nation's current war efforts, compellingly bare their souls here, facing their mortality as profoundly as do any of the soldiers they meet on a daily basis. Bring your handkerchiefs. --Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: William Knight, Joan Gaudet, Gerald Mundy
  • Directors: Aron Gaudet
  • Format: NTSC, Widescreen
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Studio: The Way We Get By Productions, Inc.
  • DVD Release Date: November 3, 2009
  • Run Time: 84 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002QBL2NU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #211,025 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
I saw this movie when it was playing in New York City and have anxiously awaited it's arrival on DVD. After one viewing I knew it was a "must-have" for my, or anyone's home collection. The film starts out as a sweet story about a group of elderly citizens at an airport in Maine who greet our military personnel as they deploy to and head home from the war overseas. One of the main characters friendly yell of "WELCOME HOME HEROS!" is often the first thing soldiers hear when they return to US soil. We are quickly and effectively introduced to three of the greeters. Bill, Joan, and Jerry are revealed as caring, likable, yet complex characters. The filmmakers many talents are evident throughout this beautifully shot documentary. Skilled camera work, combined with a compelling story are the foundation. However, the greatest gift the filmmaker's provide is the amazing access they gain, not just into their characters homes and lives but more importantly into their psyches. Like many great films this movie transports us to a time and place that few of us have ever seen. Life over 65 has never been examined in such truthful detail. Intimate conversations about love, loss and fear are revealed with remarkably genuine honesty. These heartfelt and profound discussions are unlike anything I have ever seen on film (documentary or fiction). This unflinching look at the elderly in our country is raw, even uncomfortable at times, but each character also brings a sense of humor, and an unwavering will to live that is truly inspirational. The film never turns preachy, yet I felt truly enlightened by the example set by these three unassuming heros.Read more ›
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Format: DVD
The Way We Get By The Way We Get By

Real Americans in 'The Way We Get By'
By Dan Zak
Washington Post Staff Writer Published-Friday, Oct. 2, 2009

Their first contact with U.S. soil is the single asphalt runway at Bangor International Airport in Maine. The first citizen they see is often Bill Knight, posture stooped, pushing 90, wearing his World War II veteran cap, pumping the hand of every service member who deplanes after tours of Iraq or Afghanistan. Knight, troop greeter at this gateway airport, is one of three senior citizens who are profiled, challenged and honored by "The Way We Get By," a lyrical documentary guaranteed to jerk tears and tug hearts over and over during its tight, haikulike 86 minutes.

No one comes home in a body bag. There are no dusty dispatches from Baghdad or Helmand province. There are no protests. There is no rhetoric. It's not that kind of war documentary. "The Way We Get By" is about three people, not about military or political combat. It strikes a deep, rich vein of emotion that flows through America's elderly, and it should be required viewing for those who think they know exactly what America is about.

Bill Knight, Joan Gaudet and Jerry Mundy (average age: 78) are dream subjects for a documentarian. They have the right mix of sass and wisdom and are naturals in front of a camera. They greet military transport planes that land at the airport, sometimes arriving at 4 a.m. with bright smiles and warm hugs, and they grapple with the rubs of old age at home. Knight, a widower with cancer, staves off a creeping loneliness in a farmhouse overrun with cats and empty cans of Alpo.
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Format: DVD
The Way We Get By paints a stunning portrait of three older people who have selflessly donated so much of their time, day and night, over the last six or more years to greeting soldiers returning home from serving overseas. They sometimes have to say farewell to troops leaving for war-torn areas as well. On a deeper level, however, the film meaningfully explores the universal issues of mortality and aging; this makes the picture a standout because many of us, understandably, don't always think as much about these things as we should. After all, it can be painful to deal with mortality, aging and war, but this film doesn't hurt feelings the way it might have if it had been in less capable hands. Director/writer Aron Gaudet sensitively and brilliantly deals with these themes in this film; and that's wonderful. The story line of this documentary will move you greatly as it moved me; and I cannot help but admire the magnificent way in which we get to get to know the three senior citizens who have volunteered to meet and greet the troops at the airport in Bangor, Maine. In addition, the cinematography works great and the flow of the film is just right; the editing couldn't have been better.

Specifically, the three seniors we meet and come to know are Joan Gaudet, William Knight and Gerald Mundy. Joan, an elderly widow, retains a feisty personality. Despite her having to take seventeen pills a day of prescription medication, we see Joan driving to the Bangor airport at all hours of the day or night and she scarcely ever complains. William, a rather lonesome elderly man who misses his late wife as well as his time in the military, also routinely makes it to the airport despite his cancer.
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