Film Review: Liberal Arts (2012)

on Friday, October 05, 2012
'Liberal Arts' (UK Release: 5 Oct '12) // Words: Saam Das

Josh Radnor is best known for his acting role in mainstream US sitcom 'How I Met Your Mother' but it is his independent film career that arguably deserves more attention. 2010 saw his debut directorial feature, 'happythankyoumoreplease', which he also wrote, and his follow-up is 'Liberal Arts' - an introspective, coming-of-age drama, which captures the unease of love and life superbly.

One of the highlights of the Sundance London 2012 festival, 'Liberal Arts' stars Radnor as uninspired 35 year old Jesse, who feels stuck in a rut, nostalgic for his university days. He jumps on an invitation from his old college professor (Academy Award nominee Richard Jenkins), which sees Jesse meet young student Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen), re-invigorating his life.

The relationship between Zibby and Jesse develops gently, and 'Martha Marcy May Marlene' lead Elizabeth Olsen is an excellent casting choice. The romantic interest of the beautiful, mature Zibby and a wonderfully free-spirited cameo from an unexpected source renew Jesse's zest for life before he realises that his new found path may not be as perfect as it initially appeared.

Josh Radnor plays Jesse (ostensibly himself) with obvious ease and similarly, his semi-autobiographical script works nicely. 'Liberal Arts' will appeal to anyone in a post-university lull, or those who retain nostalgia for their student life. Josh Radnor's second feature might play a little too safe but is heartfelt, well-meaning and charming.


'Liberal Arts' is out today in UK cinemas through Revolver Entertainment/Picturehouse.

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