HappyTreeSpirit’s review published on Letterboxd:
"The Graduate" stirs up comedy and drama in its premise and it certainly does blend well together. The soundtrack and the cinematography are what make it iconic though. Throw in some amusing but well thought-out characters and we get a good story out of their dilemmas.
It may not be as grounded in reality as some might like it to be but I think that's part of the charm. It is a 'chasing dreams' sort of fantasy that only happens in our own heads and not in reality. This is probably what makes the Mrs. Robinson character sort of tragic but also devious in nature. While her daughter represents the 'eternal good & innocence' that Dustin Hoffman's character so desperately desires. The fact that they hit it off right away is what makes that desire feel so much more urgent and important than anything else.
By the end though we can see how rash decisions can stir up complicated and ambiguous moments that make the dream seem impossible, even when it is in the palm of our hands. Thus, we are left with the burning question; does everything turn out alright in the end? For me personally, I am left to believe that we are right back where we started when the ending credits roll. It is a great coming-of-age tale that recalls back to the similar works in literature that came before it. The whole 'life after college' bit is the main thing that will hook young adults too most likely. Not knowing what to do with one's future is probably something most of us have experienced before or eventually will. And that's when the rash decisions start coming into play.
Overall it is a fun ride. Dustin Hoffman plays the naive and gullible character very well but also supplies an emotional edge to him as well as the story progresses. His actions are not necessarily heroic but I did find myself rooting for him by the end. We get a good observer's view of all the events that unfold that keeps us entertained. The fact that the viewers get to draw their own conclusions by the end is what makes "The Graduate" memorable. The mixed feelings serve as a good statement on what life is like in general. Did Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman's character) make the right choice? To society's standards the answer would most likely be no. And so this film has a hidden cyclical nature to its premise and outcome. This is especially prevalent in the grey and morally ambiguous areas of the film. And since we see mostly what Benjamin sees and perceives, it is especially hard to discern what is going on in the minds of the others.
By the end the characters accomplish relatively little but it is the colorful journey that leads them to where they are at now that makes it all the worthwhile. Uncertain futures make for some great storytelling. It's probably more of a black comedy than anything else really and the 'humor' will most likely go over most peoples' heads. The showdown at the church is pretty hysterical though. Most people will probably really enjoy that one part of the film if not anything else. It's a personal favorite of mine and it is definitely worth a watch for those looking for a great onscreen affair.