Liberal Arts

Liberal Arts

Directed by: Josh Radnor
97 minutes

East Coast Premiere


This is the latest lesson that Jesse Fisher (Josh Radnor, How I Met Your Mother), a 35-year-old admissions counselor, has absorbed from his favorite—or at least second-favorite—professor, Peter (Richard Jenkins, THE VISITOR). Jesse has returned to his alma mater to support Peter at his retirement celebration, although Peter is feeling far less celebratory than he expected. He introduces Jesse to some old friends and their daughter Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen, MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE), a sophomore at the college who positively sparkles with the excitement of newfound knowledge and burgeoning possibilities.

Jesse has spent his adulthood to date pining for the student’s life that slipped away: the stimulating environs, the pulse of new ideas, and the abundance of time set aside for reading and intellectual growth. For him, Zibby embodies the essence of this world he never wanted to leave: the thrill of becoming, of dancing on the cusp. But Zibby is 19 and, despite their obvious connection, Jesse has difficulty thinking his way around the math. Could it be that youth has taken on a greater gloss in hindsight? Or has Jesse finally found the person who understands him just as he is?

LIBERAL ARTS represents Radnor’s sophomore turn as a writer/director, following 2010’s HAPPYTHANKYOUMOREPLEASE. Delightful appearances by Zac Efron, Elizabeth Reaser, and Allison Janney round out this poignantly witty contemplation on life’s momentum—and its simplest pleasures.

—Sandra L. Frey