REVIEW: "Liberal Arts" Is A Delightful Look At Life In College And Beyond
The film follows Jesse (Radnor), a 35-year-old man who pays a visit to his alma mater on the occasion of his favorite professor's (Richard Jenkins) retirement. While there, he meets Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen), a current student. After some prompting by a student guru (played by Zac Efron, of all people), the two start up an old-fashioned epistolary correspondence that has the potential to grow into something more.
"Liberal Arts" is pretty standard light indie flick fare, but that doesn't mean it's not enjoyable. Radnor, who also wrote and directed the movie, does a good job of telling a story that could easily venture into the land of the creepy (a 35-year-old man who wants to be in a relationship with a 19-year-old?) with brevity and, more importantly, delicacy. The entire cast turns in strong performances, from the aforementioned cast to Allison Janney's terse professor to the ironically-cast Elizabeth Reaser (watch the movie to discover the irony) to John Magaro's somber student. They all combine to tell a thoroughly charming and relatable story.
What is perhaps the film's greatest strength, though, is its ability to capture the woes and joys of life at all stages. From the fragility of life in college to an adult's reluctance to grow up, life is showcased in all of its terrifying beauty. And isn't that what film is supposed to do, after all?