Lessons on love. So this is about a college graduate (Dustin Hoffman) who comes home, only to find his longtime neighbor, Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), vying for his affection. When she forbids him from seeing her daughter (Katharine Ross), it sets the scene for a whole lot of jilted drama. Some time has passed since the last time I had the opportunity to watch the hilarity that is The Graduate; it’s a film that I have nothing but fond memories for, but for whatever reason, it never managed to find a way into my rotation of movies I rewatch on a regular basis. As always, working my way through the list of 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die gives me a great excuse to revist the classics I otherwise wouldn’t.
Regardless if you’ve ever had an affair with an older married woman, what makes The Graduate work is how relatable it is. This is also what makes it so funny as well, and watching Hoffman get entangled in this tricky predicament leads to big laughs. He’s at the age where he can be confused about what he wants, and it is easy to see why he gets overwhelmed like he does, especially when there is a manipulative man-eater that has him in her sights. It’s his age and demeanor that make you buy into his character; with where he’s at, there is an uncertainty about the future, and everybody wants to give him advice for this transition period of his life. Given that these are close family friends doling it out, and given that he’s a polite young man, he doesn’t have really much of a choice here, other than to nod his head and listen.
For a comedy, The Graduate has some excellent direction, which is something that is rare to see within the genre. It’s so good that it even took home an Oscar for it. On top of the direction and the wonderful performances (Mrs. Robinson is one of the all-time great tragic characters), everything is tied together by one of the most iconic soundtracks of all time, courtesy of Mr. Paul Simon and Mr. Art Garfunkel. Every element about this is top notch, but I do have one qualm about it that holds it back from being a perfect film, for me at least: it hits a drag point right before the big finish. It’s only for a 10 minute period or so, and I think it is just because the play a reprise for the same song three times in a row, but I did notice it. Still, the wedding finale more than makes up for it, and this is considered to be a classic for a reason.
The Graduate (1967) ****1/2
– Critic for Hire