Home Video Review: Week of November 29th

The Art of Getting By (2011) Directed By: Gavin Wiesen

It is strange, watching a film you have never seen before and knowing exactly what each character is going to say. Watching The Art of Getting By was both disappointing and strangely annoying. Directed and written by Gavin Wiesen, The Art of Getting By doesn’t quite feel like a first film, but feels like a mishmash of every coming-of-age film ever produced. Wiesen is confident in his direction, but his passion seems to be missing.

It is easy to forgive certain aspects of a film when it is a filmmaker’s first, however the problems with The Art of Getting By are unforgivable. The characters are all unlikeable and familiar in all the wrong ways. The two young stars, Freddie Highmore and Emma Roberts, do as much as they can, but the material is simply fighting them the entire time. When Francois Truffaut told this same story with his Antoine Doinel series he did so imperfectly, yet it had such passion and truth that any cinematic missteps were easily forgiven. The Art of Getting By borrows from all the films since Truffaut’s, yet Wiesen’s film is so heartless it becomes totally forgettable.

Another Earth (2011) Directed By: Mike Cahill

When someone describes a film as “filmschool-y” it can mean a lot of things, maybe the best way to define it through the film Another Earth. The film is part drama and part sci-fi, and unfortunately those two parts are at constant battle with each other. The drama is decent, and the concept behind the sci-fi elements of the film is inspired, and yet the two cancel each other out. The star of the film, Brit Marling, co-wrote the film with director Mike Cahill. Their inexperience is obvious at times, and while Marling is quite impressive in the lead as Rhoda Williams, overall the film falls flat.

The central concept of the film is an identical second Earth has appeared beside our own planet, and yet the film seems to ignore this as much as it can. The drama at the heart of the film is so clichéd, that strong performances cannot save it. It is unfortunate that these talented young filmmakers were unable to see the errors of their ways before going into production. There are hints of greatness in this film, and it is clear both Brit Marling and Mike Cahill are very talented. Sometimes a false start can be the best thing for a filmmaker, I just hope they realize the issues they had with this film.

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