Credit: Jacob Hutchings

Liberal Arts

In Liberal Arts, which Josh Radnor wrote, directed, and stars in, he plays Jesse, a menschy admissions counselor who returns to his leafy, idyllic Midwestern college to honor his favorite English prof (Richard Jenkins). Jesse spends the weekend reveling in wistful lit-major memories and hanging with Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen), a sophomore 16 years younger than he is. The sparks fly. Olsen, moody and apple-cheeked and intellectually avid, proves a true star: She turns being wiser than her years into an authentic generational state. And Radnor, who’s like Paul Rudd’s puppyish cousin, nails the castle-in-the-air mood of privileged dislocation. Liberal Arts presents the bond between these two as casual yet engulfing — until their big moment of truth arrives. That’s when the film takes a less adventurous turn, but it’s still the wittiest, most perceptive campus comedy in years. A-

Liberal Arts
  • Movie
  • 97 minutes