Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The Graduate: A Great Shame...

Watching The Graduate the other day, I could see why the film made Dustin Hoffman a star. He looked gorgeous, he was different and compelling, and he could act. But gosh, what a disappointment the film was.

Why is it, that one of the most-raved-about films was such a letdown? The answer I'm afraid, is because of the writers failed to see that the most interesting and exciting story in the film, was the story between Mrs. Robinson and Benjamin Braddock, and not the story between the latter and Elaine (Katherine Ross).

The first hour of the film is brilliant, and the first fifteen minutes - fantastic. The moment it starts we are faced with this shy, disturbed, and confused boy who has just graduated from college. Minutes later, he is then confronted with the incredibly confident and irresistibly seductive, Mrs. Robinson (superbly played by Anne Bancroft - who looks gorgeous by the way!). Regardless of their age difference, the two have a great chemistry, and there are some great scenes with Mrs. Robinson trying to seduce the virginal Ben, to which he famously replies, 'Mrs. Robinson you're trying to seduce me'.

Aside from the exhilarating sexual banter, there is an element in their relationship which is quite moving. The young Ben is confused about what he wants to do as a career, and is also, confused sexually, whilst Mrs. Robinson is simply looking for love and sexual attention that she hasn't received from her husband in years, when it is his duty to do so. Watching Mrs. Robinson, you see an older woman, unhappy in marriage and unhappy in life. Her looks have faded, her marriage is empty, and now she is having sexual relations with her friend's son.

However, this brilliantly scripted and wonderfully acted first half, disappears into nothing by the second half, with the arrival of Elaine, Mrs. Robinson's daughter. The story hereon, is nothing but an unconvincing pile of crap. The love story is just too unbelievable, even if it is supposed to be, don't spend half the film on it. Benjamin turns from character we love, to a total loser and unlikeable guy, and the character of Elaine is just irritating and clearly has no self-respect concerning her mother and Ben.

Not to mention this endless amount of Ben driving his car scenes that dominate the last hour, (I swear there was at least 10 minutes worth of film showing him just driving along different roads).

After such a promising beginning, I'm afraid The Graduate is just another overrated movie from the 1960s, that was innovative at the time with the wave of new, independent filmmakers appearing in the American film industry. But unlike the satisfaction I felt after watching Midnight Cowboy, where I became attached to the characters throughout the film, and was touched by the overall themes and outcomes of the story, The Graduate ended up boring me to tears. I'd say it was worth a watch for the first hour, Bancroft's performance, the catchy Simon & Garfunkel soundtrack, and seeing what made Hoffman a star, but as soon as Elaine appears, don't feel bad in turning it off. You won't miss anything. In fact, if you do watch it til the very end, you'll notice that the character's faces in the final scene mirror exactly how you feel - what was the point in bothering, it was all for nothing.

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