Liberal Arts

“A warming hug of a film… a sweet and gentle tale of friendship.” — Amber Wilkinson, Eye on Film

Director: Josh Radnor
Year: 2012
Country: USA
Running time: 93 mins
Censor Rating: M - adult themes

Screenplay: Josh Radnor
Producers: Brice Dal Farra, Claude Dal Farra, Lauren Munsch, Jesse Hara, Josh Radnor
Photography: Seamus Tierney
Editor: Michael R. Miller
Production designer: Jade Healy
Costume designer: Deborah Newhall
Music: Ben Toth
CinemaScope/DCP

With: Josh Radnor (Jesse), Elizabeth Olsen (Zibby), Richard Jenkins (Peter), Allison Janney (Judith), John Magaro (Dean), Elizabeth Reaser (Ana), Zac Efron (Nat), Kate Burton (Susan), Robert Desiderio (David), Ali Ahn (Vanessa)

Festivals: Sundance 2012

In writer/director/star Josh Radnor’s charming romantic comedy, he plays Jesse, a newly single 30-something wasting away in a job that bores him. While attending a retirement function for a favourite professor (the excellent Richard Jenkins) he meets Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen, freshly liberated from her ordeal as Martha Marcy May Marlene), a bubbly, idealistic sophomore. The two hit it off and Jesse feels his youthful passions for literature and classical music rekindled. Once he heads back to his dreary job in New York City they begin trading letters (handwritten, at her insistence). While Zibby may be thrilled to be embarking on a romance with a cultured older guy, Jesse’s unease over their age difference begins to complicate things.

Though years of television have honed Radnor’s situation-comedy skills and fed his taste for multi-character pile-ups, Liberal Arts, his second feature, has the smarts and the sweet inclusiveness of a bona-fide, liberal arts crowd-pleaser.

“Armed with one of Sundance 2012’s most talented cast ensembles, Josh Radnor knocks high expectations out of the park with Liberal Arts. Elizabeth Olsen is perfect as Radnor’s age-inappropriate-friend-maybe-more, and Richard Jenkins and Allison Janney are delicious in their supporting roles. But the real star of the film is Radnor’s writing. It’s funny, moving, thoughtful, true and – above all – ennobling. He’s such an open-hearted and earnest writer, and the journeys his characters go on are, among other things, beautiful explorations of how life should be lived and understood.” — Michael Dunaway, Paste Magazine