Watched: January 31 2021
Director: Mike Nichols
Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Katharine Ross, William Daniels, Murray Hamilton, Elizabeth Wilson
Runtime: 1h 46min
Surprise motherfuckers! We’re not dead. We just got to summer and realised we were completely exhausted by work and pandemics and generally being alive, so we needed a proper break. No work, no writing, no responsibilities! Sorry ’bout it. But we are now rested and rejuvenated and ready to dive back in with a fun, lighthearted romp through depression, existential crises, borderline abuse, doomed relationships and rape allegations… Oh. Oh damn.
Well, the plot of The Graduate is pretty well known. Ben (Hoffman) comes home from college, all disillusioned and emo. His parents’ generation is totes old fashioned and lame, and all Ben knows is he certainly doesn’t want to become like them (spoiler alert: he probably will). Then the ultimate cougar seduces him.
Ben’s domestic claustrophobia and feeling of alienation on his return home are probably familiar to most people – we know we’ve been there. Being a young adult is hard, man! Luckily, he deals with his emotions in a mature manner – by floating around in the pool and fucking his parents’ friend.
Things get more complicated once Ben falls in love with Mrs Robinson’s daughter Elaine (Ross). Whether out of jealousy or because she thinks her daughter could do better than her boy toy, Mrs Robinson does everything she can to break the two up – including falsely accusing Ben of rape.
As is tradition, let’s go through what we liked and didn’t like about The Graduate. We loved the stress, depression and claustrophobia experienced by Ben, the clown painting, the portrayal of ennui and alienation, Simon and Garfunkel, and the last shot when the two crazy kids realize they may have just made a huge mistake.
What we didn’t like… Well… Let’s face it: Elaine is a non-person. The only semi-intelligent thing she does is leave him on that first, disasterous date. Then after that, she sort of just exists to be an object of obsession for her new stalker who’s secretly banging her mom. And also to show him if you just stalk and bother her enough, she’ll eventually fall in love with you. #lifehack
That being said, Ben’s malaise is relatable for people of several generations. The ’60s was not the last decade where the youth had trouble relating to their parents, and while we came around a long time later (we’re still young dammit!), we’ve been in the same boat. Luckily, we avoided being seduced by the neighbourhood cougar. Phew!
What we learned: A relationship is the solution to all your problems! Also, stalking is super romantic.
Next time: The President’s Analyst (1967)