Film Review: Liberal Arts

| 13 December , 2012 | Reply

Written and Directed by: Josh Radnor
Starring: Josh Radnor, Elizabeth Olsen, Richard Jenkins, Allison Janney and Zak Efron
Sassi’s Star Rating:4/5

Jesse Fisher (Josh Radnor) is bookish, 35, and disillusioned about the path his life has taken. His job in New York and his latest relationship failure do not reconcile with the future he had imagined for himself when he was a bright, young college student in Ohio.

When his beloved Prof. Peter Hoberg (Richard Jenkins) invites him to his retirement dinner, Jesse finds himself heading back to his alma mater. There he meets Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen), a 19 year old Liberal Arts student. They form an immediate connection and she introduces him to both classical music and a re-awakening of possibilities for his future.

Radnor and Olsen have an easy chemistry, and both shine in their portrayal of Jesse and Zibby. The development of their relationship is thoughtful and realistic; which I found refreshing, particularly because I was not sure it would be treated this way when I watched the movie’s trailer.

Richard Jenkins gives a wonderful interpretation of his character’s conflicted journey towards retirement, in a role written especially for him. His role as Jesse’s mentor delivers one of the most memorable lines in the film when he says, “I’ve felt 19 ever since I was 19. Nobody feels like an adult; it’s the world’s dirty secret.” Moments like this give the audience much to relate to.

It is worth mentioning Zac Efron for his small, but highly amusing performance in the role of Nat, the free-loving hippie, new best friend of Jesse, and instrument of universal enlightenment!

Liberal Arts is funny and inspirational, and full of ideas. Some may find the imparting of so much of Radnor’s view of the world slightly wordy, as conveyed through some intense dialogue, but I feel that there is enough movement within the plot to balance this out.

An honest and considered account is given of youth, as well as ageing, and the depth of this can be seen in Jesse’s interactions with the troubled young Dean (John Magaro), who is a current student, and one of Zibby’s classmates.

This is a charming and insightful film. Josh Radnor’s screenplay makes sharp observations about what it means to get older, and in doing so challenges some of the limitations we sometimes place upon ourselves. It is about growing up, and looking to the promise of the future, no matter your age. Perhaps it will also remind you to live in the present moment, with gratitude.

A film about how the people you meet can change the way you see yourself, and can sometimes even transform your life.

Liberal Arts, in cinemas now!




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Category: Film & TV

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