The Graduate

The Graduate ★★★★★

There is always a handful of cinema's classics, that you see snippets here and there of, yet never manage to sit down and watch the entirety. 'The Graduate', has just proved to me that this is one of the most glaring omissions I have ever encountered. I have seen certain classic scenes, even studied a couple of them, but they were all taken out of context.

We open on a young Benjamin Braddock, returning home post graduation from College. He is slightly disillusioned, and completely overcome about his future that he drives himself into a catatonic catharsis, happy by leaning back, and watching life quite literally float by.

Enter Mrs. Robinson, a quite clearly unhappily married 40 something cougar, who has set her sites on our young graduate. The affair starts off awkward with Ben's naivety and quite clear terror at the thought of an older woman, but it becomes almost tender toward the end. The scene which encapsulates the shift in power within their affair, is when Ben insists upon talking. They talk art, and her past, revealing a new found vulnerability and sadness about Mrs. Robinson.

The humour is created out of the situations in which Ben finds himself, but mainly comes down to the script, and most of all, the leading trio. The chemistry between Hoffman and Bancroft is palpable, and in real life with there only being 6 years between the actors, quite believable. Enter then, the sweet and precocious Elaine, and everything quickly unfolds. Ross is perfect, the innocence, yet stubbornness toward the advances of Hoffman.

The lilting way in which the film progresses is delightful, and in no small means down to Simon and Garfunkel. In a soundtrack featuring some of their greatest work, we have songs that encapsulate the moods and feelings of scenes, and the stuttering 'Mrs. Robinson' whilst the car runs out of fuel, is perfect. The happiness that Benjamin seeks is almost tangible, yet he keeps getting in the way of himself.

The Graduate is a film that doesn't seem to have aged a day. It is a prevalent coming of age tale, in which a young man must not only find his sexuality, but himself through his own actions and decisions. A masterful work in comedy and drama, and one that will command another viewing in the near future.

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