Writer/director Gavin Wiesen‘s THE ART OF GETTING BY (2011) Is all about George (Highmore), a high school senior who seems to “get by” without doing any of his class assignments. He believes that he can find better use of his time because his mortality excuses him from doing his school work. As a gifted artist and a real thinker, George “doodles” on pages of his school books, instead of doing his actual assignments. His teachers and Principal Martinson (Underwood) continually remind George throughout the year that he has a rare talent, and if he is not careful, he could ruin the rest of his life. Of course this news does not faze him at all because George understands that all life is temporary–you are born alone and will die alone; everything else is merely an illusion.
He lives at home with his mother, Vivian (Wilson) and step-father, Jack (Sam Robards), who are concerned about his lack of interest in school, but do little to dissuade his behavior—they are more concerned with keeping up appearances; and trying keeping a roof over their heads. It did not matter to George that his stepfather pretends to go to work every day, and it did not matter that his mother may or may not know about it—why should he waste his time telling her about it anyway?
Secretly, George is in love with Sally (Emma Roberts), an attractive but lonely girl at his school who lives with her philandering mother who serves her daughter and George alcoholic beverages—even grabbing at George’s crotch is considered one of her niceties. What’s more annoying about the supposed “romantic” relationship between George and Sally? He fails to act on it. He believes that a relationship with Sally is impossible, and due to his unrequited personality, George inadvertently allows Dustin (Angarano)–an older artist/mentor–to pursue his relationship with her.
George isn’t a depressive person; he is more of a thinker–and that’s his problem. There isn’t one plausible or actionable reason for George to behave the way he does. It is easy to understand George’s speculative approach, but what is confusing, is not explaining the exact reason behind his way of thinking. One can only assume the reason he behaves this way is because his real father was never in his life. Maybe there’s something more to identify him to his perceptions? Of course, everything may or may not turn out okay for him.
Visually, the look and cinematic appeal of the movie are pleasant and engaging; the acting is well enough to keep your eyes on the screen and makes it a curious enough film to watch.