Josh Radnor, you little piece of hard work. You always play someone who is so into something, and then you bore the hell out of the rest of everyone else. In Liberal Arts you are not an architect like in the hit series How I Met Your Mother, but a book geek who rolls around smiling on the grass of his former college, reminiscing the good old times. And, of course, you like to talk about sophisticated topics, show your passion wherever it is possible. Dude, just create a guy, who is not just so unlikable!
Liberal Arts is Josh Radnors second directorial film after Happythankyoumoreplease, which is yet unseen by me. It is about a guy who comes back to his favourite professor in college to celebrate his career at an celebration/retirement dinner. At college he also meets Lizzy (Elizabeth Olsen), for whom he grows interest in a very short amount of time. In fact, there is actually a shot of him at a table with a smirky, sheepish grin towards Lizzy, to make it very clear that there is something going to happen between those two. The story in itself is not so much important as to forward the relationship between Lizzy and Jesse (Radnor) and his reflections on it. In this process there are as always strange figures who help him to find himself and to make a decision about Lizzy. You see, Jesse was last in College 18 years ago, Lizzy is just beginning to attend it.
Radnor is, judging by this film only, not the greatest of directors. First he builds a happy atmosphere, putting every character in a good light, letting them click instantly and too powerfully for that time they actually know each other. Yes, there are always explanations of soulmates, who just click, but this does not help over the fact that is captured in front of a rose-coloured lense. Furthermore it is just too cliché (even for me) that those two are hanging out, alone on a stage, eating something, getting to know each other and other instances which are just too on the face. Then he succeeds to give the story an edge, but somehow it’s already too late for that.
There is actually one cameo of Zac Efron which is kind of funny to watch, as he is a spiritual kind of guy, appearing in the middle of the night and helping Jesse out. It must have been a funny role to play and it also is a delight to watch Efron in it. Nevertheless it does not so much help the film to achieve it’s core authentic try on college/life relationships. But on the other hand it is sometimes a bit too of a fairy tale, so it could be right for the film.
Then there is also a side story about Dean (John Magaro), Jesse meets at a café, who is going to be a bigger role for him than he would expected at the beginning. The guy just read one of Jesses favourite books and feels, again, a connection towards him. This side story will get sadder and not as much comprehensible as it would like to be. It’s just there, just to show Radnors charactor as an good guy. It all feels incomplete and incoherent in the wider story. But it’s just what you get: Liberal Arts is a kind of feel-good film with an edge, which is sadly not as much entertaining or engaging as one would hope to be.
__________[ 4/10 ]__________