Gareth Negus reviews Liberal Arts.
Liberal Arts is a pleasant middle-youth indie angstfest, which sings the praises of an English degree while gently mocking those who can’t move on from their college years.
Josh Radnor, also the film’s writer and director, plays Jesse, who returns to his alma mater for the retirement of one of his favourite professors (Richard Jenkins). Over the weekend he meets new student Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen); the two strike up a correspondence, which leads to a romance. Jesse is at a point where he’s slightly disappointed with his life – he’s just split up with his girlfriend, and is stuck in an unfulfilling job in university admissions (one senses he would prefer to be an inspirational lecturer). He hides from his disappointments behind books and poetry. Meeting with the professors who inspired him ignites his nostalgia for university, and a desire to relive those years – as he puts it, “The only time in your life when you can say you’re a poet without someone punching you in the face.”