6.7/10
31,635
85 user 152 critic

Liberal Arts (2012)

PG-13 | | Comedy, Drama, Romance | 5 October 2012 (UK)
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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.

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7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Ana
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Dean
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Susan
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David
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Nat
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Leslie
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Vanessa
Ned Daunis ...
Eric
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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 »

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Details

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Release Date:

5 October 2012 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Amor e Letras  »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$27,435 (USA) (16 September 2012)

Gross:

$317,190 (USA) (18 November 2012)
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2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the film's opening Radnor's character is reading God of Small Things, whose plot also deals with the 'laws of love', and what happens to those who break these rules - paralleling the characters of the film. See more »

Goofs

When Dean calls Jesse he identifies himself as the person who reads "Franzen", referring to the book he is always carrying, an author that both he and Jesse enjoy. But, in the hospital scene, the author of the same book is clearly Foster Wallace, that is not mentioned except to say that he killed himself. Franzen is alive and well. 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

Soave sia il vento
from "Così fan tutte: Terzettino (Fiordigli/Dorabella/Don Alfonzo)"
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performed by Carol Vaness, Delores Ziegler, Claudio Desderi with London Philharmonic Orchestra
Conducted by Bernard Haitink
Courtesy of EMI Classics
By arrangement with EMI Music Inc.
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User Reviews

 
Charm and Wonderful Acting Make for a Worthwhile Watch
6 January 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The hyphenate that is this Josh Radnor guy presents a somewhat thin but ultimately rewarding film with LIBERAL ARTS. The story is a charming one—jaded New Yorker makes an excursion back to his alma mater in Ohio and meets a much younger and gorgeous kindred spirit who forces him to self-reflect. But unfortunately, it's also a story that provides enough material for an 80 minute film which Radnor stretches out to around 97 minutes. Thus, some of the film drags a bit. Luckily, Radnor casts actors with incredible talent who breathe life into the film when it begins to deflate.

Elizabeth Olsen, specifically, is an ace. In a character reversal from her breakthrough in MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE, she is beautiful and funny, effortlessly natural. The scenes featuring her make the film. Watching her this early in her career and contemplating just how much potential she has and what she'll be able to do with it is exciting for any movie lover. Richard Jenkins is wonderful as always, as is Allison Janney. Even Zac Efron, making a humorous cameo appearance, helps liven things up a bit. The bond shared between Radnor's character and a depressed, anti-social undergrad, played by John Magaro, is particularly sincere.

The film seems to be a meditative-lite work. It's brooding and thoughtful, but it's not something that will permeate your thoughts or stick with you days after watching. But it isn't supposed to be. (At least I don't think so.) The film is probably significantly more appealing to a select group of people—mainly those with a "liberal arts" background, or those able to register all of the literary references—but that is not to say the film is only for some. The pleasant romantic-comedy-ish-drama story and the aforementioned acting is enough to create a film anyone can enjoy if they try. If the viewer tries to get past the somewhat pretentious collegiate talk, tries to hold on for the somewhat slow moments, tries to watch the film as a light and entertaining piece to pass 90-something minutes, it's highly recommended. Seek it out.


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