Liberal Arts is the second feature film with Josh Radnor and it tells the story of a man in his mid-30s who comes back to college and ends up falling for a theatre student in her sophomore year, who is played by Elizabeth Olson. John Radnor previously starred in the 2010 movie, Happythankyoumoreplease, and in this latest production he has become more involved, and he is the director, writer, and star of this movie.
The story is a coming-of-age movie and although it does lack a certain something, there are some good comedic moments in it which will certainly please the audience. This is an art house play that is modest, but it is one that is going to bring just enough to audiences to make them enjoy the experience.
Radnor plays the character of Jesse, who is 35 years old and he is somewhat introverted and doesn’t really enjoy his job working in college admissions. One day, he is invited to give a speech during the retirement dinner of a former professor played by Richard Jenkins, and he really enjoys going back to university and decides that he wants to go back to school.
He pretty much immediately meets Olson’s character called Zibby and they immediately start getting along. They go to a party together and this is a rather amusing scene because Jesse is by far the oldest person there, with most of the guests being around half his age.
The two characters start getting to know each other, even though Jesse is not at the university, although he does come back to visit her. It is at this point that he realizes that the relationship is developing into something that he feels slightly uncomfortable with, given that he is over 15 years older than her. This will make the audience feel rather awkward, but you definitely feel the emotions of both of the characters very well.
The script is well put together and there are some great comedy moments that play well with the overall sentimental feel of the movie. The impact of this movie is very good and the audience will feel drawn up into the relationship that is developing on-screen. The relationship between the two characters might seem unnecessarily contrived to some people, and this is definitely something that could have been improved in the movie, but it is far from a deal breaker.
The movie is very nostalgic in many ways and it is clear that Jesse feels that he needs to move on with his life, but is finding it difficult to do so. Unfortunately, the movie seems to offer more in the way of clichés and it does in actual revelations, but it does reach a closing point when everything is settled.
This is sure to be pleasing to the audience, as an open-ended conclusion would have left them feeling rather uncomfortable. That said, the ending does take away some of the mystery of the movie and makes it a rather ordinary production.