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Liberal Arts (BLU-RAY)

Liberal Arts

Movie
Studio(s): 
Director(s): 
On Blu-Ray: 
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Grade:
A
Running Time: 
97 minutes
Did You Know?

In the film Jesse and Zibby get into an argument about the a trilogy of vampire books. It's never revealed what the books are but one quickly assumes they are the Twilight series. One of the actresses in the film is Elizabeth Reaser, she plays Esme Cullen in the Twilight films.

In Josh Radnor’s latest outing, Liberal Arts, Radnor (How I Met Your Mother) plays Jesse Fischer, an admissions counselor who is in his thirties and pretty much lost in life. As the film opens we find the usual introduction to a lackluster life with Jesse trudging along in his work, enduring a tough break up with a girlfriend, even having his clothes stolen at a Laundromat. Jesse needs a break and gets one when he’s phoned by one of his old college professors, Professor Peter Hoberg (Richard Jenkins; Jack Reacher), who is retiring from his post.

Jesse returns to his old alma mater and meets David and Susan, two of Peter’s colleagues, and their daughter Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen; Red Lights). Zibby and Jesse make somewhat of a connection and begin writing back and forth to one another till eventually the inevitable happens and they find themselves considering a romantic upgrade to their relationship. Jesse then has to contemplate the massive age difference between the two of them and the moralities of engaging the relationship.

My first thought when researching this movie for a brief synopsis was that this was going to be yet another one of those Apatow like films where a thirty something loser with a little charm goes through a life lesson while entering a belated maturity. Things couldn’t be further from the truth here. Instead what we find is a film that takes the idea of life, as we enter the adult world, somewhat stunted by the fact that the things we thought we knew about being an adult are present, but with no knowledge in how to apply them.

The film is really three stories all within the same theme. You have Jesse, who is floating along in his thirties, kind of lost and unsure of his place in the world at large. Then you have Zibby, young and full of bright idea’s about life, but too cocksure and overzealous, basically young and naïve. Then you have Professor Peter Hoberg, who even late in life still hasn’t mastered the art of understanding adulthood. You can choose to ignore or engage Peter’s story, in the end I think we’ll all see the contrast there, but Jesse and Zibby’s tale is so remarkably life like and engaging that it can only help that Radnor and Olsen bring their characters to life in such a remarkable way. The chemistry is outrageously perfect and they both manifest the flaws in their characters with such natural ease that you forget you’re watching a film and get swept up in the drama of their situations.

There is a universal pull going on in Liberal Arts that will make this film accessible to anyone over the age of sixteen. Right as soon as the two leads begin a letter writing campaign to one another with music as a connection I personally was hooked. Nothing starts a chemical reaction between two people like music. It’s the universal language of the world that contains all life within its walls. Love, hate, politics, indifference, but more so a connection, when hit upon in synch between two different people, creates a bond that, while not completely original, seems to be in the private world occupied by two people who are connected by it.

Aside from music you have the romance angle that can go either way. The older guy suddenly finding himself attractive to a younger woman. A younger woman in a world of mostly immature college guys finding the maturity that she’s been looking for in an older guy. Or even the much older guy looking to bow out of a life long profession and everything that comes with retirement. Everything seems to have its place in Liberal Arts, opening up its accessibility to its viewers. Radnor delivers another fantastic film that avoids the clichés and delivers life with an unapologetic level of realism made enjoyable by the charm of its characters. I look forward to seeing what the guy does next.

PICTURE QUALITY:
Liberal Arts does have its faults in the picture catagory, but very few. There are some scenes where natural light makes the picture look a bit flushed, but these scenes are minimal. Other then that you’re rewarded with a lot of really beautiful exterior scenes of the college, lush with bright vegetation, and lot of high quality up close shots of the actors. Not much to complain about other then a few small deviations in picture quality. 

 

BONUS FEATURES:
~Commentary
~Deleted Scenes: There are 16+ Minutes of deleted scenes found here. I watched most of them but came to the conclusion that adding or deleting any of them would do the film no good as it was perfect the way it was.
~Featurette
~Trailer

AJ Garcia
Review by AJ Garcia
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