Posted on 3/14/10 10:24 AM
"I've got one word for you....plastics!" One of my favourite movie lines of all time. When taken in context of the awkward confusion of a post-college burnout, however, it;s also handy little metaphor for the fabricated nature of a life led trying to live up to and appease a social class of troublesome phonies who want to live through you. I love when a movie captures so aptly a moment in time, I love when a film's characters grab me to extend where I actually know them, laugh, cry, and yearn along with them as they go about their silly little lives. Benjamin's (Hoffmann) journey is one that begins with troubles we all know far too well and end with resolutions we wish we could supply. The film opens up with Benjamin, stone faced, lost among the masses on a plane. The opening credits' tracking shot is an icon, depicting him lifeless on an esculator, almost as though walking the conveyor belt of life. A wonderful shot of him in his room sitting in fornt of a fish tank with bubbles seemingly emmanating from his brain depicts a college dork well and truly out for the count. He is lost amidst a stuffy, country club upper class, expected to get a decent job and live the repeatitive BBQS and soiree life of his parents. We can all relate. But then, out of nowhwhere, comes the one and only Mrs. Robinson...
This is one of the most gleeful and uplifting tales of rebellion I have ever witnessed. The first scene of seduction between Ben and Mrs. Robinson is hilarious. it feels as though Ben is being educated, like a bizzarre piece of academia. Ben attempts to leave twice! Soon, however, the gregarious Mrs.Robinson teaches Ben to flirt, frequent hotel rooms, make love and eventually be free. A great cut scent in which Ben morphs from a swimming pool lounger to a bed with mrs.Robinson depicts a man who has learned to love lofe and himself. The movie is littered with iconic images and moments (Ben dons sunglasses and floats carlessly with a beer can, "Are you here for an affair, Sir?!") One subtle one, however, is very underrated. This is the moment during which it is revealed that Mrs. Robinson surrendered a promising carreer as an artist following a pregnancy. Suddenly this dominating woman is revealed to be but another broken and frightened lost youth, having had to surrender to the same pressures ben has managed to escape. Cudos to actress Anne Bancroft, who evidently suggested this depth be introduced to her character herself. Then all of a sudden, along comes Elaine...
The most interesting thing about The Grasduate for me is the depiction of the heart being such a complicated thing. The fact that Ben falls in love with Mrs. Robinson's daughter renders The elder Robinson an unlikely victim and is genuinely not seen coming by the viewer. "Goodbye, Ben" is another genuinely complex momoent form Anne Bancroft. The love between Elaine and Ben is one of the most tender and hilarious on screen to date. Ben is irrational but loveable. Their first date is spent in a strip club. Following Elaine across the country, stalking her, and, eventually, interrupting her wedding AFTER she has been married are all just part of the plan. Love is never perfect and neither are people, but these characters are real. Fighting off wedding guests with a crucifix even seems a cuoy charm! With a sensational Simon and Garfunkle send off ben and Elaine run away together. They are confused and totlally uncertain, but aren't we all?! They stare vacantly, a beautiful closing shot depicts two people who have managed to escape convention and learn that happiness is what is real. Hears to you, Mrs. Robinson! The Graduate proves how pure identification and happiness is and that simple is the best type of effective.
Gorgeous and fondly directed and boasting some of the most tender performance and sunbject matter in hollywood's great timeline this is not to be balked at. Highly recommended for all lovers and burnouts:-)