Life can be unexpected and ordinarily uneventful. Yes, lofty dreams and goals can sometimes be replaced by the mundane routine of normal existence. Sounds sad? Not really. In Josh Radnor‘s Liberal Arts these themes are beautifully explored and offer a unique character study of a man searching for a connection and finding out what being a grown up really means.
Recently, I finally caught up with the television show, How I Met Your Mother and have become a bigger fan of all the leads, but I was still very impressed with Radnor’s writing and directing talent. Who knew? Filmed at his Alma Mater, Kenyon College, he is able to capture the hope and struggle of being a college student and, for that matter, a graduate.
This is a small, quiet film and Radnor is smart enough to surround himself with a talented cast. Elizabeth Olsen continues to shine and solidifies her “on the rise” status. She is natural and lovely. Olsen easily embodies an old soul trapped in a young, inexperienced body. Add Richard Jenkins, always awesome, and Allison Janney, in a funny small role, and the story stays engaging and thought-provoking.
It was refreshing to see a narrative that avoids the typical clichés and provides a new angle to a familiar situation. The connection between an older man and a younger woman, has been done before but Radnor uses it as a spring-board for a larger conversation about expectations and the search for a human connection. (My favorite scenes are the ones that show his character discovering classical music for the first time–just wonderful!)
I made my daughter watch this and it started conversations about her university experiences and her goals for stepping outside of her box and taking on new challenges. For that alone, Liberal Arts scores high in my book!