Mike Torchic’s review published on Letterboxd:
This film would've been an easy 4.5 if it wasn't for the ending. Damn was that ending great.
The Graduate is a film that has been on my radar for some time, and today I finally had the chance to see this masterpiece. This film truly is one of the best films ever made, no doubt about it.
Ben Braddock is an insecure young man. He gets very overwhelmed when he's the center of attention and is very awkward when trying to take the initiative to do something. In a way he reminded me of myself. His life is full of uncertainty. Even though he graduated college, he still doesn't know what he wants to do. He also hesitates on going to graduate school, which his parents try to push him towards. This uncertainty factor is a major part of the character, but a minor part of the story. The main focus is Ben's affair with Mrs. Robinson, a older women who seduces him one night. They develop a relationship, but Ben then develops feelings for Mrs. Robinson's daughter Elaine. This really is the main focus of the film, Ben finding himself torn between these two women. At its core the film is a drama, but it has some comedic elements. The ending is a bit comedic in its own right, but there's a sense of satisfaction as well. The dialogue in this film is also great, especially Ben's dialogue. Ben is an awkward character, and the dialogue reflects that. There are also so many quotable lines. I mean, who can forget "Mrs Robinson, you're trying to seduce me". Classic line right there. There are so many aspects of this film that make it a masterpiece, and the story is only one part.
Dustin Hoffman gives his best performance in this film in my opinion. He plays Ben, an awkward young man who is torn between two women. His performance is oddly charming in some scenes, especially the scene where he tries to rent a hotel room. Anne Bancroft and Katherine Ross also give great performances as Mrs Robinson and Elaine, respectively. Bancroft gives an almost hypnotizing performance, which is a good thing. Her line delivery felt hypnotic, almost as if she was trying to entice the character of Ben. All in all, the performances in this film all around were great.
A lot could be said about the direction of this film, but one element that really stuck out to me was the cinematography. Some of the shots in this film looked so great. One that stuck out to me was when Ben met Mrs. Robinson in the bar, and as she walked up the camera focused on a reflective table, showing her entering the frame. What I said probably makes no sense but when (or if) you've seen the film you'll know what I'm talking about. The cinematography stays consistent, with every scene looking great.
Who can forget the amazing Simon and Garfunkel songs in this film. Everything from Sound of Silence to Scarborough Fair was a delight to hear on screen. Granted I felt like some of the songs were repeated a bit much, but the rest of the film makes up for that.
The Graduate is a perfect film, no doubt about it. With a perfect story, characters and music that is a delight to the ears, this isn't one to miss. I'm excited to check out more of Mike Nichols's films in the future.