“I was overwhelmed with sadness when I realized that I was going to change, and that it was all most likely going to get worse, like a nostalgia for the present.”
–George, The Art of Getting By (2011)
Maybe I’m just a victim of my age and my environment, maybe I am falling into the trap of the self-proclaimed “hipster” movement, or maybe I just have a soft spot for unmotivated, depressed teenage boys and their manic pixie dream girl counterparts, but I am a massive fan of your typical, indie wannabe, coming of age teen movie. I eat them up like cake. Perks of Being a Wallflower, Palo Alto, and It’s Kind of a Funny Story are each all-time favourites of mine and probably will be until I inevitably outgrow them. So it makes perfect sense then that The Art of Getting By has been a movie that has been sitting in “My List” on Netflix for quite some time now.
The other night boredom was getting the best of me when I sat down to watch The Art of Getting By, staring Freddie Highmore (best known for his childhood role as Charlie in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) and Emma Roberts (best known for being in pretty much a dozen other movies exactly like this one). The movie starts with the main character, George narrating his fear of death and his lack of desire to really do anything in life, as life is simply just a waste of time between the loneliness of birth and death.
George is your classic loner: intelligent, introspective, and a little misunderstood. He’s not much of a student, favouring doodling in his notebooks over actually doing homework, and in the beginning of the movie we get to see George neglecting pretty much any and all senior year responsibilities.
At least until he meets Sally, the kind of attractive, off-beat, charismatic girl that has just enough of that special something to wake something up in George (I’ll leave that there). The rest of the movie pretty much goes as expected, but for some reason I think that might be its charm.
This is not a suspenseful movie. There are no tricks and turns or plot twists. It is quiet and slow pace, like life in high school tends to be ninety percent of the time. It’s hard to find something relatable about George. Anyone who can remember high school well enough will recall the aching feelings of pointlessness of pretty much everything that makes up high school. The stupid lessons, out of touch teachers, and countless wasted hours spent on something that will one day matter less than what socks you wore Wednesday of last week.
It’s also hard to forget those feelings of desire that comes with first love, whether it be unrequited, ignored, or even reciprocated. High school is a difficult time for all of us, and George somehow perfectly captures the constant dull pain of being at that age where both nothing and everything matters so much.
While The Art of Getting By is no real work of art, it is a movie worth watching simply because it is definitely one of the more realistic representations of adolescent life that I have seen in a movie, even if it is a teen movie. Most teens don’t check themselves into a psyche ward or start an affair with their soccer coach, but almost everyone knows what it’s like to fall in love or feel scared and lost about what lies ahead of them, and for those people, The Art of Getting By has the makings of an undercover masterpiece.
Love you all, Ana. ♥