Starring: Freddie Highmore, Emma Roberts, Michael Angarano
Director: Gavin Wiesen
Running Time: 84 mins
The Art Of Getting By is an American film about a nihilistic high schooler who falls in love with a girl in his class, while his world falls apart as responsibilities and assignments pile up around him.
On the surface, The Art Of Getting By looks like one of the most obnoxious coming-of-age dramas imaginable. Moody teenage leads, melodrama and a bit of cheesy romance, it would be surprising for this film to be at all likable. However, that’s exactly what it is, delivering genuinely touching drama that cuts through lazy coming-of-age genre tropes throughout, complete with wonderful performances across the board.
Let’s start on that point, because the film’s performances are a major part of what makes it such a genuinely likable affair. While not immediately lovable, Freddie Highmore is fantastic in the lead role as a nihilistic high schooler full of talent, but low on motivation for life.
Alongside, Emma Roberts is delightful as his peer and love interest, while supporting players including Michael Angarano, Rita Wilson, Alicia Silverstone and more all bring an extra level of very genuine and perceptive emotional drama to the table.
And that’s why The Art Of Getting By works so well. As I said, the film seems unbearably irritating on the surface, but it’s a story that cuts through generic coming-of-age narrative tropes to deliver something genuine and impactful, with touching drama in both the main character’s story, as well as his many co-stars’.
I do love a good coming-of-age drama, with the likes of The Perks Of Being A Wallflower and Eighth Grade really appreciating the depth of emotion that comes with growing up in the modern world, and while there are parts of The Art Of Getting By that feel a little melodramatic, the film’s perceptiveness on a teenage view of the world really makes it soar.
It’s not an accusatory tale, nor is it a story about becoming a better person through standard or conventional means. Instead, the film is very open-minded in the way it treats its nihilistic lead, with a refreshingly laid-back approach to a coming-of-age story that only makes the growth of Freddie Highmore’s character all the more touching to watch.
There are parts of the film which do fall into a slightly more generic band than others, with a sweet but never quite stunning romance, and a few cheesy speeches along the way. However, The Art Of Getting By is, for the most part, a wonderful coming-of-age drama, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.4 overall.