Liberal Arts | Screen | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Liberal Arts

Growing up and moving on isn't just limited to college-age kids in this film

life lessons never end. Thirtysomething Jesse (Radnor) is treading water in New York City, his college degree having netted him a dull job. Thus, he leaps on an invitation to return to his idyllic Ohio alma mater for the retirement party of a beloved professor (Richard Jenkins). There he meets Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen), a peppy student 16 years his junior. The two develop a lively friendship that grows more awkward as it gets more serious.

Radnor's film is quite talky, befitting its milieu of self-absorbed academia, but there's enough natural wit to keep this tale of desires and disappointments afloat. Everybody has lessons to impart and to learn — and some sting. (Jesse has a painful evening with another treasured prof, played by the delightful acerbic Allison Janney.) College may be a heady time, a protective cocoon of highs and lows, but one of the lessons you're meant to learn there is how to move on. Nothing too deep in this film's plot or themes, but it's a pleasant enough class.

Cupid's Undie Run in Pittsburgh, 2024
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Cupid's Undie Run in Pittsburgh, 2024

By Mars Johnson