An awkward college grad begins a torrid affair with a
married older woman, then falls in love with her daughter.
The Graduate (1967)
Directed by Mike Nichols
Written by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry
Starring Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Katharine Ross,
Murray Hamilton, William Daniels, Elizabeth Wilson, Brian Avery
Based on the novel by Charles Webb
Oscar Wins - Best Director
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Actor (Dustin Hoffman), Best Actress (Anne Bancroft), Best Supporting Actress
(Katharine Ross), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography
There's a lot to like about The Graduate. It features a host of solid performances and it's the movie that made Dustin Hoffman a movie star. It's also a film that's part of the bridge between classic Hollywood and indie filmmaking that began in the late 60's. You've got a classic Oscar-winning star like Anne Bancroft in a leading role, but the tease of nudity and unconventional relationships. It's an important film in the evolution of cinema, and it still holds up for the most part thanks to Mike Nichols's impressive direction.
Benjamin Braddock (Hoffman) has just returned from college, a recent graduate. His overbearing family relish in his accomplishments, but are never interested in who he is. They just pester him about whether he's going to go to grad school or throw his life away. Driven by angst and irritation, he begins an affair with his parents' older, married friend Mrs. Robinson (Bancroft), after she blatantly seduces him. Wracked with guilt but reluctant to stop, Ben and Mrs. Robinson continue their affair until Ben meets her daughter Elaine (Ross). In love, Ben breaks off the affair and starts dating Elaine, turning Mrs. Robinson from love interest to the film's antagonist as she does whatever she can to break them up. The film morphs into something completely different halfway through, and it actually works. The ending feels earned because of all the shit Ben goes through thanks to this spur-of-the-moment affair with Mrs. Robinson.
The Graduate features a fantastic soundtrack by Simon & Garfunkel, and perfectly captures the uncertainty and weirdness of post-college life. You're not really sure what to do with your life, having been thrust into the real world for the first time. If you don't have a plan or support, you'll end up in a strange place, much like Ben. Hopefully, you won't end up banging your parents' friends.