Screened as part of NZIFF 2012

Liberal Arts 2012

Directed by Josh Radnor

In this Sundance hit romantic comedy 35-year-old Josh Radnor (who also wrote and directed) returns to college and falls for Elizabeth Olsen's sophomore theatre student. “Funny, moving, thoughtful, true.” — Paste Magazine

USA In English
93 minutes CinemaScope / DCP

Director, Screenplay


Brice Dal Farra
Claude Dal Farra
Lauren Munsch
Jesse Hara
Josh Radnor


Seamus Tierney


Michael R. Miller

Production designer

Jade Healy

Costume designer

Deborah Newhall


Ben Toth


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)


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