6.7/10
34,114
87 user 155 critic

Liberal Arts (2012)

PG-13 | | Comedy, Drama, Romance | 5 October 2012 (UK)
Trailer
2:26 | Trailer

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When 30-something Jesse returns to his alma mater for a professor's retirement party, he falls for Zibby, a college student, and is faced with a powerful attraction that springs up between them.

Director:

Josh Radnor

Writer:

Josh Radnor

Elizabeth Olsen Through the Years

Take a look back at Elizabeth Olsen's movie and TV career in photos.

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7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Josh Radnor ... Jesse Fisher
Elizabeth Olsen ... Zibby
Richard Jenkins ... Professor Peter Hoberg
Allison Janney ... Professor Judith Fairfield
Elizabeth Reaser ... Ana
John Magaro ... Dean
Kate Burton ... Susan
Robert Desiderio ... David
Zac Efron ... Nat
Kristen Bush ... Leslie
Ali Ahn ... Vanessa
Ned Daunis Ned Daunis ... Eric
Gregg Edelman ... Robert
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Storyline

Thirty-five year old Jesse Fisher, an admissions officer at a New York City post-secondary institution he who loves English and literature, has somewhat lost his passion in life, which includes recently being unceremoniously dumped by his latest girlfriend, who could no longer be the person to prop him up emotionally. He has a chance to find that passion again when he is invited to the retirement dinner of his second favorite Ohio University college professor, Peter Hoberg, as his time there was when his life held the most passion. Jesse's encounters with five people there may determine if he does find that passion again. They are: Hoberg, who is resisting the notion of retirement; Judith Fairfield, Jesse's favorite professor, although for a different reason than his like of Hoberg; Nat, a free spirit who navigates life at the institution on his own terms; undergraduate student Dean, who Jesse sees as a younger more destructive version of himself; and nineteen year old undergraduate ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Sometimes students make the best teachers.

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for sexual content including references, mature thematic material, and some teen drinking | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 October 2012 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Amor e Letras See more »

Filming Locations:

Gambier, Ohio, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$27,435, 16 September 2012, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$317,190, 18 November 2012

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,150,681
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Soundtrack uses classical music through a discussion after a class Zibby takes. The music used includes:
  • Beethoven's Sixth symphony, 1st movement - Herbert von Karajan with Berliner Philharmoniker
  • Wagner - Overture to Tannhauser
  • Mozart - Cosi fan Tutte aria
  • Vivaldi - Guistino - Vedro con mio diletto (sung by Philippe Jaroussky)
  • Monteverdi - 9th Book of Madrigals "Zefiro Torna" (sung by Philippe Jarrousky and Nuria Rial)
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Goofs

At the very beginning of the film, during the series of quick cuts denoting the passage of time, none of the items on any of the furniture change positions. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Jesse Fisher: You know, high school to college, it can be a big transition, especially if you're not from the city, so - so we try yo help out with that transition, in a number of ways.
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Soundtracks

Favorite Song
Written by Courtney Lee Kaiser, Benjamin Rosenthal
Performed by Kaiser Cartel
Courtesy of blibattock music, llc
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A romantic take on the collegiate experience
1 October 2012 | by jdesandoSee all my reviews

"And binding with briars my joys and desires." William Blake, from Songs of Experience

Liberal Arts is a small, endearing film about idealism, the reality of life, the complicated nature of aging, and the beauty of experience. The briars play a part, but mostly it's about the romanticism of academia versus the reality of growing old. That's quite a bit for 97 minutes, but writer/director Josh Radnor does an admirable job setting straight the hopes that a superior education like his at Kenyon College can foster.

This lyrical film, like the simple poem that opens this review, makes no grand demands as it juxtaposes the beauty of undergraduate reading and writing with the reality of love not quite mature enough and maturity not ready enough. New York City college admissions counselor Jesse (Josh Radnor) at 35 returns to his college to visit a retiring professor, Peter (Richard Jenkins), and falls for a 19 year old coed, Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen). Radnor's alma mater, Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, is the beautiful location although not identified.

The complications may be obvious given the differences in their ages, but the issues are spot on—and because I lived that plot as a youngish college administrator I congratulate Radnor for neither over-romanticizing nor condemning youthful idealism and the encroachments of "life," described as "happening" after graduation and mitigating the romanticism a college English major fosters. That the pop cult ascendance of the Vampire Trilogy may trump the lofty literature of college does not subvert the notion that everything is good given the right place and time.

The sweetness of the film reaffirms Mr. Radnor as a dreamer of quality, a thinker who confirms life's ambiguities and its promise to those who "say yes" to everything. Again, Blake in Songs of Innocence confirms the efficacy of positive thinking, in this case of feeling the godhead's presence:

He doth give his joy to all;/ He becomes an infant small;/ He becomes a man of woe; / He doth feel the sorrow too.

"It's not Tolstoy, but it's not television, and it makes me happy," Zibby says about reading a vampire trilogy. The same could be said of this simple romance underpinned by Blake's realistic optimism.


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