Verdict: 4 / 5
Liberal Arts is a great reflection of the stages of life’s thought process and development: youth’s ambition and optimism, adult cynicism and disillusion and the aged apprehension and anxiety.
Zibby: Everything in life is basically improvised. There’s no script, we are just making this up as we go along.
The blend of new and old is what varsity is all about, a place that encourages endless and limitless thoughts and opinions, it exposes the learner to subjects, thoughts and culture that they would never had seen or imagined before. Liberal Arts does this seamlessly, not only proving this theory true for the characters within the movie but also for those watching. This is particularly well illustrated with exploration and personal evaluation of classical music shared between the two main characters.
Jesse Fisher (Josh Randor) is an avid reader and lover of the English language who has become a disillusioned admissions officer at the age of 35 living in New York City. After receiving an invitation to attend his old college professor’s farewell dinner at this old university, Jesse rediscovers his love for the vibrancy of campus life. He meets several people as he spends time with his ex-professor (Richard Jenkins) including the 19 year old Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen), who challenges his way of thinking and helps him rediscover his passion and purpose.
Zibby: Try not to over-think things, okay?
Jesse Fisher: Ah, you’re talking to the wrong guy.
Zibby: Well, look. We connect really well, don’t you think?
Jesse Fisher: We do, yeah. I just can’t figure out if it’s because you’re advanced, or because I’m stunted.
Zibby: It’s because I’m advanced.
Jesse Fisher: Maybe. But I’m also a little stunted.
This is a wonderfully authentic film, it comes across as relevant yet doesn’t sell out or criticise specific popular trends and culture. The clever writing and excellent delivery of the lines is definitely the highlight of the film and shapes it into an honest and witty story about real people and their journeys. Zac Efron makes a cameo role and steals the show as the eccentric wonderer of the campuses and giver of advice.
Zibby: [about vampire novel] I liked it. It was fun and stupid. And it passed the time. And it’s not Tolstoy, but it’s also not television. And it made me happy. Now you…
Jesse Fisher: Thank you… This – is the worst book – ever – written – in English.
Zibby: So there are worse books written in other languages?
Jesse Fisher: Probably not. Unless this book is translated into other languages.
Without giving away the ending, some romantics may find the outcome of the film a little disappointing, but the sensible ones among us will see that it couldn’t be more perfect. Liberal Arts certainly does not bend to the traditional college orientated movie.