Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Now at Netflix Instant: Liberal Arts (2012)

Liberal Arts movie poster Elizabeth Olsen
Liberal Arts (2012) - Written and Directed Josh Radnor; Starring Josh Radnor, Elizabeth Olsen, Elizabeth Reaser, Richard Jenkins, Allison Janney, Zac Efron.

By Kenny Howell

Josh Radnor seems like a nice guy.

Through two movies he is now written and directed - this and 2010's Happythankyoumoreplease - He has crafted two very pleasant movies about people working through life's problems.

In this one, Radnor (Afternoon Delight) plays Jesse, an admission officer at a New York school, who is called back to the liberal arts college he graduated from in Ohio to attend a retirement dinner for one of his favorite professors. When he returns, he gets to know one of his professor's friends' daughter, who is now a student at the school, played by Elizabeth Olsen (Kill Your Darlings). Despite their age difference, Jesse falls for her, and they start a sort of penpal relationship until he could possibly return.

It seems to hard to criticize Radnor, not just because he seems so nice, but because he is a pretty good storyteller. His movies move well, the characters are rarely stock. I think he just may play it too safe. He never reaches for big ideas, or really dig too deeply into his characters. Not to say he doesn't develop them fairly well, he does, he can just wipe some of the squeaky clean off his films and not be afraid to try a bit more. He hints at things, like when the two lovers fight over her love of a cheesy vampire novel. They have a little fight, and it does play into the movie, but that was it. Radnor holds back, when he really could have defined the characters a lot harder with a little more in depth scene.

Like I said, don't let me criticism hold you back. This is a pleasant movie that just tries to tell a nice story. And there's nothing wrong with that.

Liberal Arts is now streaming on Netflix Instant.

Rating: **1/2

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