For number 200 I wanted to pick a movie that had been highly recommended. The Graduate is a film that I know a lot about, but have never seen. With only 166 movies left to watch for this challenge, it felt like a solid choice for number 200. The Graduate has lots of interesting production elements with a fairly crazy love story. I give The Graduate the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating.
Ben Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) has just graduated college, but seems extremely torn about what the next phase of his life should be. He is seduced by the older Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft) and soon finds himself in an affair. Things only get more complicated when he finds himself torn between his older lover and her daughter, Elaine (Katharine Ross).
I was really looking forward to the last sequence in this film. I’d seen it re-created in Wayne’s World 2 and I wanted to see how true that film was to The Graduate. It was extremely true to the source material and in some ways even improved upon it. However, director Mike Nichols and the director of photography Robert Surtees explore several camera techniques that are essentially film school in a DVD box. The dutch angle when Mrs. Robinson and Ben first attempt their affair. The rapid jump cuts when Mrs. Robinson first attempts her seduction of Ben and he doesn’t seem to know where to look. The series of montages during the affair to show the Ben’s apathy. All techniques that are used in many films to follow.
The acting stands out as well as the camera work
Dustin Hoffman is really great, but the writing sometimes feels awkward. For example, despite spending several weeks with Mrs. Robinson, Ben always calls her Mrs. Robinson. He finally is tired of sex and wants to have a conversation with her and just keeps saying, “Mrs. Robinson.” However, Hoffman’s facial expressions definitely let you know exactly what he’s feeling. Ross also excels at this from the first moment she sheds a tear as a result of Ben’s behavior to the last shot of the two of them on the bus.
I definitely enjoyed this film. I don’t think it’s perfect, but there is a lot of great stuff. The love story is a bit crazy and if Ben were my friend I’d be worried about him. There are some comedic moments, but it feels more like a drama.