The Art of Getting By (12A)

Starring: Freddie Highmore, Emma Roberts, Alicia Silverstone
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The Independent Culture

Gavin Wiesen's coming-of-age Manhattan drama would very much like your sympathy for its 18-year-old slacker hero, George (Freddie Highmore), whose recent discovery of our human fate – death – has left him all philosophical and too-cool-for-school.

Literally: he won't do his homework! We might admire his teen spirit if we knew what was actually wrong with him, yet in truth his life seems OK. His mum (Rita Wilson) loves him, a gorgeous girl at school named Sally (Emma Roberts) desires him, and the entire teaching staff (including Alicia Silverstone as his English teacher) want him to do well. But he just sits there doodling and being disrespectful. Wiesen writes some good scenes, most of them involving a Brooklyn painter (Michael Angarano) who's kind to George and sweet on Sally; it might have been a better film if he'd been the lead character instead. The trembly acoustic soundtrack and the doe-eyed looks of Highmore ache with sensitivity but they didn't, alas, stop me from checking my watch.

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