Film for Thought - The Art of Getting By


Youth and the angst of self discovery is the facade in which 'The Art of Getting By' masks it's love story. The focus of which drives our protagonist George, played by Freddie Highmore, across a journey of self discovery both mentally and emotionally. The backdrop of New York paints a picture of entrapment and urban isolation in order to send our character to the edge physically so that his emotional isolation is ratified. The setting also provides enough noise to allow the characters to provide proactively honest portrayals of youth culture in a more liberal and independent environment.

The exploration of art in the film is a device used in various ways to materialize George's internal problems. In fact I believe through the art of the protagonist he not only reveals his own philosophy and those of the people he comes across in the gray streets of NY, but he uses those people in order to express himself, as an artist uses their brushes to paint:

  • The expressionist backdrop of his mentor is the materialization of his chaotic internal struggle, and in a way lives vicariously through him as both an artist and a lover. Becoming the brush, the first to touch the paint, and the first to be cleaned of it. George becomes this brush, but only after the later one is set aside.
  • Sally the complicated love interest, is the key to his discovery of art and himself.  She is the canvas in which the artist begins to explore and in doing so begins to define himself and those around him.
  • His relationship with his mother can be compared metaphorically to the cleaning of a brush in the way that he refuses to use her until his pigments are so muddled, his emotions become nothing but blotched and distorted shapes; as seen through his emotional breakdown. Only after exploring the truth of their relationship does he accept her enough to cleanse himself in her understanding. 
  • By the end of the film, success provides his motivation, like an artist his muse, rightly becoming the catharsis of expression, George uses academics to provide him with the motivation to see himself through other people.

Emotionally intense scenes basked in warm tones are noticeable after the introduction to sally, which prior were composed of blues and grays, and even while exploring his feelings for her does he relapse into these chromatic expressions of emotion. George's eventual choice to use Sally as his subject for redemption academically can be seen as the final step towards realizing that he will never be able to paint the world with his emotions unless he let's others paint him first.

In all, this film introduces some very convenient modern youth dialogue in artistically relevant way. The likeness of artistic method and the styles of creation to the internal character struggle of transitioning youth is a treat to watch, and when cued with the visual effectiveness of great directing the story really draws deep emotional commitment. Big nod, a definite youth enthusiast watch.