25 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Bittersweet and Intelligent,
This review is from: Liberal Arts (DVD)
Now THIS is one to watch for! It is witty, intelligent, well-acted, adult, textured and beautifully acted, with a gorgeous soundtrack. Our 2012 Seattle International Film Festival audience could scarcely contain ourselves as we exited the theater. We had watched decent people trying to cope with the vagaries of growing up, each at his or her own pace, each with his or her own degree of success.
Let's look at some of these nice people:
* Josh Radnor ("How I Met Your Mother") is Jesse, an Admissions officer for a New York City school, called to give a speech for a former professor who is retiring at his old alma mater. He is a bookworm who says a dual English/History degree should make a graduate fully unemployable. He meets a couple of undergrads while visiting his old campus.
* Elizabeth Olsen ("Martha Marcy May Marlene") is Zibby, a young woman wise for her years but who views a relationship with our hero as a possible short-cut to maturity. She gives him a mix-tape filled with works by dead white males, i.e., European composers Wagner, Beethoven, Mozart, Vivaldi and Shubert. That is his FIRST surprise from her! She is smart, decent and has great insight. And she LOVES "snail mail."
* John Magaro ("My Soul to Take") is Dean, the other student our hero meets on campus. This guy hates hyperbole and is terminally depressed! He keeps re-reading a book written by an author who killed himself. He's attending college because he got a "full ride" scholarship and his single mom is "soooo proud!"
* Richard Jenkins ("The Visitor") is Peter Hoberg, the professor trying to make the difficult transition to retirement.
* Allison Janney ("The Help") is Judith Fairfield, the acerbic professor who helped our hero learn to love dead white males (in this case the Romantic poets). She thinks he has a "gooey heart!"
* Elizabeth Reaser (the "Twilight" trilogy) is Ana, who works in a bookstore. She notices he reads dead white males, authors who shall remain nameless.
* Zac Efron ("The Lucky One") is Nat, who may or may not exist....
Writer/director Josh Radnor ("Happythankyoumoreplease") has a great future ahead. He doesn't talk down to his audience, his characters are literate, witty, decent and earnest. The soundtrack is absolutely wonderful and Radnor's bittersweet views on aging and age differences are very realistic. We laughed at his stunned reaction to a "Vampire" trilogy. This is top notch! Amazon.com will notify me when the DVD is available.