Sunday 24 October 2010

The Graduate (1967) - Mike Nichols

After three years of University, what happens next?  In the twenty-first century, we have Avenue Q.  In 1967, there was The Graduate, breakthrough film for Dustin Hoffman. 

Ben Braddock (Hoffman) is a recent and successful graduate with no idea what to do with his life.  The answer?  Have an affair.  After being seduced by family friend the sultry Mrs Robinson (Anne Bancroft), Ben is trapped into an illicit relationship.  I will say no more for fear of ruining the story, but what follows is essentially the story of what a guy will do for love as he is thrown into the 'real' world, post-college.  The height of the story is undoubtedly the infamous seduction (every young guys fantasy?) and the story does fizzle out a little after this.  But the emphasis is clearly on the characterisation and the acting.  Although the star of the narrative is Mrs Robinson, it is Hoffman who really shines.  His portrayal of Ben as he grows from boy to man is superb and as a character, Ben has something for everyone to identify with.  The direction is also fantastic - this is incredibly well filmed.  The opening scene brilliantly depicts the entrapment of Ben under the pressure of his parents and their friends, with a single close up shot of Ben constantly invaded by others.  The direction continues throughout as Ben moves from the entrapment of family and success, to the entrapment of love.  All of this is accompanied by the iconic and beautiful soundtrack by Simon and Garfunkel, though it's a little overused. 

This film is '60s through and through and although it may seem more relevant to graduates of this age (i.e my Dad), the film certainly has resonance with more recent graduates...

Here's to you, Mrs Robinson.