On Tuesday, I saw a great indie film called Liberal Arts written and directed by Josh Radnor, who is best known for portraying Ted Mosby on CBS’s How I Met Your Mother.
His sophomore feature, as well as an official selection of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, the story follows 35-year-old Jesse (Radnor) who returns to his old college to attend his favorite professor’s retirement dinner. Once there, long-dormant feelings of his idealistic youth force him to reevaluate his life, especially when he begins a romantic relationship with 19-year-old college student Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen).
Jesse is a college admissions counselor who has never fully left the university mindset. This coming-of-age tale juxtaposes the feeling of ultimate possibility his former self believed in against the limitations of the real world when life gets in the way. How can Jesse reconcile the two?
Radnor captures this thirty-something crisis well. The film is a crowd-pleaser with some exceptional cinematic moments, including a scene where Jesse, deciding whether he should pursue Zibby, works out the mathematical difference between their ages at various points in their lives. The non-dialogue sequence showcases Radnor’s visual storytelling abilities with both insightful and humorous effects.
On a personal note, Radnor writes several great lines about the need for good books that definitely tugs at this writer’s heartstrings. It’s a movie about books, reading, intellectual curiosity, and the degradation of all three in the post-college lifestyle. The way Garden State spoke to my twenty-something self, Liberal Arts has definitely found a place in my collection of personally identifiable movies for the next stage of my life.
The film hits theatres on September 14. Be sure to check it out.
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