The Graduate was re-released in Summer 2017, which is a tremendous accolade. But was that an act of homage or is it a great film?
Anne Bancroft as Mrs Robinson is wonderful. From the very first scene when Benjamin (Hoffman) returns from College as the conquering hero Mrs Robinson is the only adult in the room. Benjamin is infantilised by his parents and their guests, one of whom actually ruffles his hair. Mrs Robinson immediately makes a play for the gauche, virginal, Benjamin.
Throughout Benjamin only refers to her as ‘Mrs Robinson’ and this is after she’s turned him into an unpaid gigolo. Unsurprisingly he resents being a sex object and attempts to normalise their relationship with conversation. She rejects this impertinence. His attempt marks a shift in The Graduate. The daughter of Mrs Robinson, Elaine, becomes- against the fervent opposition of Mrs Robinson- Benjamin’s girl friend. So far, so classy. A destruction job on the American Dream follows. The American Dream is portrayed as trite, vacuous and self-indulgent and it’s destroying America in 1967.
A series of silly events between Benjamin and Elaine unfold. However the denouement is as shocking as turning Benjamin into an unpaid gigolo. Elaine has literally got married when Benjamin turns up and, still at the altar, with her wedding vows hanging in the air, she rejects her husband (of just a few minutes) and escapes to Benjamin. The congregation erupts but he fights them off with a Cross – a weapon in a Church- which is then used to trap them in their Church (their world?). A truly subversive scene which is compounded by a shot of Elaine’s wedding ring, wedding dress and their escape on a de classe public bus.
Yes it does stand the passage of time and is more than an interesting period piece.
Why you should watch this film: Anne Bancroft’s performance is sufficient to recommend this film.
Why you shouldn’t watch this film: Hoffman doesn’t persuade as a stellar graduate and athlete
For a grown-up review see http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=EE05E7DF1739E564BC4A51DFB467838C679EDE