By Erik Luna
With a colorful cast and dynamic writing, the new film “Liberal Arts” delivers a heartwarming message of realizing one’s position in life regardless of age.
The film focuses on 35-year-old Jesse Fischer, played by Josh Radnor, who befriends a 19 year old college student named Zibby, played by Elizabeth Olsen, when he goes to visit his alma mater.
As the two become acquainted, they quickly realize that they are strongly attracted to one another.
As Fischer must go back to New York, the two quickly start a correspondence through the mail, in which Fischer details his growing love for classical music.
The correspondence scene has to be one of the best comedic montages created, at least one of the best written montages.
Through time, Fischer realizes he must go back to visit Zibby, bringing back all the social taboos that come with dating someone 16 years junior.
The film takes place in Kenyon College, Radnor’s real life alma mater, which has one of the best English departments in the country.
The defining aspect of this film is the dialogue.
The film, which was written and directed by Radnor, has a good mixture of humor and drama.
The jokes are sophisticated but not crude or vulgar.
It’s clear from the start that Radnor’s script makes the movie witty, charming, smart and unique.
The entertaining, clever and funny introduction sequence sets the mood for the whole movie.
It’s a subtle, but hilarious conversation between Radnor and unseen students.
The actors were both believable and charismatic.
“The characters in the movie, in a sense, are a part of me. Jesse isn’t just me, there are parts of me in Zibby and even in the professors,” Radnor said.
“It’s very confusing at times, when I’m writing for myself. It’s like I’m being pulled two different directions,” Radnor said.
Richard Jenkins (The Visitor), who plays Peter Hoberg, does a fantastic job as a supporting actor in this film.
His snappy comebacks to Radnor’s clever quips makes for an entertaining scene.
Along with Jenkins, Allison Janney (Juno) and Zac Efron (The Lucky One), both do a marvelous job in their roles.
Janney plays Fischer’s old professor. Judith Fairfield and Efron play the wise hippie Nat.
Efron’s take on the wise hippie was surely re-energizing. It was both hysterical and wise, or one, if not the, best scenes in the film.
The chemistry between Radnor and each of the other actors was evident; creating a beautiful story in which they must realize that growing up doesn’t stop at any age.
“Liberal Arts” is Radnor’s second film as director and writer. His first film was called “HappyThankYouMorePlease.”
The film, which is not rated, is only playing in select theaters and runs for 97 minutes.
However, Radnor said that it will have a wider release in October.