Uninspired by his job in college admissions, Jesse Fisher, an introverted person, lives his life buried away in books. Jesse lives a life of nostalgia for his past, stuck daydreaming about his time in college where he fears he has already spend the best days of his life. When one of his favorite professors invites him back to campus for his retirement dinner, Jesse jumps at the chance to return, leading him to meet Zibby, a precocious woman 16 years younger, that awakes Jesse's desire and passion for connection. Josh Radnor's Liberal Arts is an exploration of the romanticism people feel for their past and how they fear their lives are simply passing them by. Early on in Liberal Arts the film makes it very clear that Jesse is a man who misses the freedom of intellectual exploration which college provides, showing his over-the-top romanticism of his past. Jesse is a character who wants to feel alive again and Zibby is really the person that injects him with youth and reminds him to go out there and live life. The romantic relationship between the two of them is probably one of the least interesting aspects of the film but I could argue this is intentional, given Jesse's weakened state of feeling old and despondent. The film doesn't feel like another indie film about middle-class angst as much as an exploration of people's fears and desires centered around growing old. Richard Jenkins' character, the retiring professor, and John Magaro's character, the socially inept but brilliant college student, add a nice symmetry to the narrative of Liberal Arts, capturing how people are always searching to find themselves regardless of age. These two characters represent Jesse's past and potential future, if he doesn't learn to begin living life. In the end, the strongest aspect of LIberal Arts is the dialogue, full of some interesting opinions/thoughts about growing old, cynicism, intellectualism and life in general.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.