ADULTHOOD AND MATURITY don't necessarily go hand in hand, a point charmingly made in the offbeat new love story Liberal Arts. But don't mistake this for another story of a sad white person who can't grow up—Liberal Arts is lighthearted but thoughtful, a romantic comedy for the book-loving set.
Jesse (Josh Radnor) is a grown-ass man choked with nostalgia for his college years, for a life of books and conversation and not worrying about paying rent. When he returns to his prestigious Ohio college to attend a going-away gala for a favorite professor, a chance meeting with 19-year-old Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen) results in an awkward, inappropriate (but legal!) attraction. She's a drama kid who's just learned the "yes rule" in improv class, while 35-year-old Jesse isn't sure he should just-say-yes to banging a girl 16 years his junior.
Josh Radnor—who wrote, directed, and stars in the film—is generous with his characters. Zibby is precocious and poised, but she's also 19, which means she really doesn't know anything about anything. Jesse's mixed up and mired in nostalgia, but he's not a bad guy—and two much older professors serve as cautionary tales, as Jesse figures out he doesn't want to be in college anymore after all. Liberal Arts is a disarming, funny little look at nostalgia, aging, and what it means to be an adult.