Romantic comedies that go against formula are always risky. As audience members, we have certain expectations in the boy-meets-girl world of cinema. This film is one of the rare exceptions to the rule. Yes, it’s romantic; and yes, it’s funny, but it’s also a layered, thoughtful look at the meaning of coming-of-age.
Jesse Fisher (Josh Radnor) is a stuck-in-a-rut 30-something admissions director at a New York City college. When his favorite college professor, Peter Hoberg (Richard Jenkins), invites him to his retirement party, Jesse immediately heads back to what I am assuming is Ohio Wesleyan University to attend the dinner and get a much-needed break. Almost immediately, he meets Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen), a college sophomore reveling in her youth. They instantly click, and when Jesse returns to Manhattan, they begin a wildly romantic letter-writing friendship—as Zibby says, it’s all very 17th century.
When Jesse returns to Ohio to see her, it is clear Zibby is ready to take the romance to the next level as Jesse, 16 years her senior, wrestles with the obvious morality issues inherent in the situation.
I have to say I found this movie entertaining, if not mind-blowing. Radnor and Olsen have terrific chemistry and are extremely likeable actors. The characters all either idealize or demonize college years, and in the end, realize that the true experience is somewhere in between.
It’s a 7.