Bottom Line: Extremely funny and thoughtful.
“Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me. Aren’t you?” –Dustin Hoffman as Ben Braddock
Directed by: Mike Nichols
Starring: Anne Bancroft, Brian Avery, Buck Henry, Dustin Hoffman, Elizabeth Wilson, Katharine Ross, Murray Hamilton, Norman Fell, Walter Brooke, William Daniels
After recently graduating from college, shy Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) has decided he has no idea where he wants to go with his future, with no desire or reason to attend graduate school and no particular career planned. One night, he is seduced by his mother’s alcoholic best friend Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), after driving her home from a celebration, and he is trapped in an affair with her. To make matters worse, she is not just his mother’s best friend, but her husband is his father’s business partner. Shortly after, Benjamin meets Elaine (Katharine Ross), who happens to be Mrs. Robinson’s daughter, and immediately falls in love with her. The only problem is that Mrs. Robinson feels emotionally obligated to keep Elaine away from Benjamin at all costs.
THE GRADUATE certainly is the classic I’ve been told of. The somewhat quirky characters and their dialogue give this movie some outrageously funny wit, yet there is also a great amount of drama. The film is actually much more a drama, just touched up lovingly with comedy. We see the story through the eyes of Benjamin Braddock, who is a week away from turning twenty-one years old when the story unfolds. He’s a rather calm, patient character who would be nice to be around. Complemented by the serene soundtrack by Simon & Garfunkel, his character takes off. Dustin Hoffman’s performance indeed familiarizes us with his character even more. The depth produced is what makes such heated arguments placed in the latter half of the film so emotional. It’s impressive how much we understand him and his point of view without one bit of narration.
“Plastics.” –Walter Brooke as Mr. McGuire
It’s difficult to believe the film is almost forty-five years old. Although the film would be a much different presentation if made today, the story has not lost one bit of power. It’s thoroughly engaging and would work perfectly in any era. The fashion in which Benjamin’s emotions are conveyed, however, is something that would be very difficult for any modern filmmaker to match. The ending is perfect example of these depictions. I’ve seen quite a few great endings, but I’d have to say this is one of the most unexpected, most wonderfully written endings my eyes have ever faced. That one scene is what throws away our thoughts that the well-paced, brilliant writing could not have gotten any better.
There are certain films that I have wanted to see again right after I watched them initially, but I was about halfway through THE GRADUATE when that thought occurred to me. It’s simply unforgettable. Sure, there were one or two scenes that didn’t quite meet up with the themes offered by the entire film, but they don’t puncture the mature quality of the film, nor are they as truly memorable as the rest of the film. A unique, powerful, ingenious tale of life, love, and the surrounding concepts.