On April 19, Fox Searchlight Pictures announced that its Sundance approved coming-of-age drama “Homework” had been renamed “The Art of Getting By,” and would be released in select theaters June 17 with plans to expand to theaters nationwide in July.
“The Art of Getting By” follows a lonely teen, played by Freddie Highmore (“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”), who slowly befriends the young socialite he has a crush on, played by Emma Roberts (“Scream 4”).
Highmore, the star of blockbuster films such as “Charlie” and “The Spiderwick Chronicles,” sat down for a conference call April 14 and had a lot to say about “The Art of Getting By,” especially compared to his past work.
In the film, his character George is forced to make-up an entire year’s worth of schoolwork in one week to ensure he graduates from high school. Highmore said he believes his character’s plight is relatable, and not too far of a stretch.
“I think that’s one of the great things about the film, actually,” Highmore said. “You can definitely relate to the situation that he’s in, and I think that was a real key for me in doing the film. (The situation) is something that actually reflects how people at this point in their life actually feel and the situations they’re actually in.”
Highmore, 19, began attending the prestigious University of Cambridge in October 2010, and said that based on his recollection of high school, he believes the film remains fairly grounded in reality.
“Sometimes, in a lot of high school or coming to the end of high school films, they can be quite stylized and heightened,” Highmore said. “I think with this film, it’s something that’s real and accessible, and people will be able to find a lot of themselves and experiences in the characters and general storyline.”
This independently funded film is far more low-key then the big budget studio films, such as “Finding Neverland,” that Highmore has been a part of. Yet overall, he said being on location in New York City has made the “The Art of Getting By” just as good of an experience.
“It’s been great making this,” Highmore said. “We did it early last year in New York, which is a joy to be in and New York really comes as sort of the heartbeat of this film, almost like another character in it.”
As for the living, breathing co-stars in “The Art of Getting By,” Highmore said he connected with actress Emma Roberts, who plays his eccentric love interest.
“We got on incredibly well and that made it pretty easy to do some more intimate scenes perhaps that we had to share,” Highmore said. “Hopefully that comes across.”
The film was written and directed by Gavin Wiesen, who is making his feature debut with “The Art of Getting By.” Highmore, who has worked with Academy Award Nominated directors such as Ridley Scott, said he feels certain that Wiesen is capable of making a good film, even on his first try.
“He was incredibly honest, I guess, right from the start,” Highmore said. “And obviously every director has something that singles him out from others in a great way. He was always incredibly open and collaborative, really, with everyone on board.”
As for the film’s response at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, the reviews were mostly positive. However, “The Art of Getting By” certainly had its critics.
Writer Eric D. Snider of Cinematical referred to the film as “a good film to watch if you were cramming for your Indie films of 2000 final, and didn’t have time to see everything on the syllabus.”
Highmore responded to the criticism, and perhaps summed up his feelings on the overall film by doing so.
“I think that what makes ‘The Art of Getting By really standout is the issues that it deals with in an incredibly real way,” Highmore said. “The main core themes of the film, they aren’t really specific to a particular genre or type of movie or even a country. I think they’re pretty universal and everyone will find something that they can get out of it.”