Some people graduate from college and move on with their lives; others, like Jesse Fisher (How I Met Your Mother's
Josh Radnor), build their lives around it. The New York admissions officer had such a fabulous time in school that nothing else measures up. Stinging from a recent breakup, he jumps at the chance to return to Ohio to speak at the retirement party for English professor Dr. Hoberg (Richard Jenkins), who remembers him with fondness, though Dr. Fairfield (Allison Janney), who taught an impactful course on the Romantic poets, doesn't remember him at all. During his visit, Jesse also meets 19-year-old Zibby (Martha Marcy May Marlene's
Elizabeth Olsen), an improv enthusiast who shares his love of literature. The attraction is mutual, but the 16-year age gap gives him pause, though he also hits it off with a hippie-dippy goofball (Zac Efron, cast against type and making the most of it) and a sad-sack scholarship student (John Magaro). Jesse and Zibby exchange letters, which leads to a second visit--and an argument over mindless fiction that threatens to derail their friendship--while Dr. Fairfield would rather have sex than reminiscence, but the awkward encounters provide the impetus Jesse needs to finally move forward with his life. Filmed at Radnor's Kenyon College alma mater, Liberal Arts
marks an improvement over his first film, Happythankyoumoreplease
, even if he still writes as if he had all the answers. Fortunately, his quick wit and guarded optimism prevent it from feeling like a self-help pamphlet. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
Filled with romance and humour, writer, director and star Josh Radnor (How I Met Your Mother) presents Liberal Arts. Featuring star-studded cast including rising star Elizabeth Olsen, Academy Award ® nominee Richard Jenkins and Emmy Award ® winner Allison Janney, the film is a heart-warming reminder that sometimes students make the best teachers. The story follows newly single 35-year-old Jesse Fisher. Uninspired by his job and worried that his best days are behind him, no matter how much he buries his head in a book life keeps pulling him back. When his favorite college professor invites him to campus to speak at his retirement dinner, Jesse jumps at the chance. He is prepared for the nostalgia of the dining halls and dorm rooms, the parties and poetry seminars; what he doesn t see coming is Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen) a beautiful, precocious, classical-music-loving student. Zibby awakens scary, exciting, feelings of possibility and connection that Jesse thought he had buried forever.