Hardly anyone’s best effort, “Liberal Arts” is still a great second feature, written and directed by leading star Josh Radnor. Borrowing many of the same themes of his first directing endeavor, “HappyThankYouMorePlease”, Radnor places himself at the center of a relationship with a college student (Elizabeth Olsen) who is half his age. The emotions are high, the situation is realistic enough, but there’s an element of surprise and regret missing from the film, often too quick to place himself as the ethereal good guy, there comes a point where drama is needed to keep things interesting.
Richard Jenkins is one of the only successful supporting roles, offering up the stakes and driving force of the film’s narrative, while a surprise cameo by Zac Efron as a stoner and humorous performance from Allison Janney fall a bit flat, with no strong help from the leads. It’s fantastic to see Olsen continue her jaunt through different genre films, but with little at stake and a halfhearted ending, “Liberal Arts” doesn’t quite live up to our expectations.
Release Date: September 14, 2012 || Director: Josh Radnor || Distributed By: IFC Films
Comedy, Drama, Romance
Rated PG-13 for sexual content including references, mature thematic material, and some teen drinking