Dallas Movie Screening

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Art of Getting By

We live alone we die alone everything else is an illusion. These are the heavy thoughts that occupy George Zinavoy while attending Morgan's Prep School in Manhattan. He hasn't done any homework since the beginning of the school term. He tells his teachers that he didn't do it because he's depressed. He uses his text book as sketch pads filling each page with intense and talented doodles. He gets sent to the principal who does says all the trite things a educator does to try and reach out to a student. But George just shrugs it off as he can't find anything that important to give a care.

Freddie Highmore as a child appeared for the first time in Never Never Land, then Willie and the Chocolate Factory, and August Rush. Now he's all grown up with the same face that has yet to catch up with his teen age body. His George is a sensitive artistic and highly intelligent soul who sees existence as meaningless. He keeps telling people that he's depressed, but no adult around him seem to take him seriously because he's an articulate young man who knows how to play around their structured guidelines for dealing with students. It's not that he's lazy, just unmotivated with no goals like most teenagers can't think beyond themselves. That is until he saves his classmate Sally (Emma Roberts) from getting caught smoking on school grounds and gets punished by being put on academic probation. She seeks him out later to thanks him and they start a friendship. He tells her he's a teflon slacker, that there's four rules on skipping school. Cutting school is fun, do it rarely so that you can savor the experience, be culturally stimulated and noodles. Sally drags him to her house to meet her free spirited single mom Charlotte (Elizabeth Reaser). She takes him to a dance club where he experiences the first pangs of jealousy when Sally dances with an ex-boyfriend. The principal (Blair Underwood) has him work career day in charge of a Morgan School alumni Dustin (Michael Angarano) who talks about his life as an artist and becomes a mentor/advisor to George with his relationship with Sally even as he's checking her out. His parents Rita Wilson and Sam Robards have issues of their own that George must also confront. The teachers Alicia Silverstone, Jarlath Conroy and the principal finally demand that in order to graduate George must complete every homework assignment since the beginning of the term. His art teacher just wants him to paint something that he honestly feels something about.

Directed and written by Thumbsucker's Gaven Wiesen the film was called Homework when it played at 2011 Sundance. The nihilistic teen angst has been played better in Submarine, but The Art of Getting By does have a charm from the pleasant performances of Hightower and Roberts. It may seem slow at times for viewers used to more action and melodrama. His budding first time romance with Sally is sweet in it's awkwardness. At least you won't feel bad when you leave the theater.
(Review by reesa)

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