“It’s like I was playing some kind of game, but the rules don’t make any sense to me. They’re being made up by all the wrong people. I mean no one makes them up. They seem to make themselves up.”Benjamin
Mike Nichols’ sophomore film was once a coming-of-age classic, but The Graduate has not aged particularly well. The first act still works, with Dustin Hoffman portraying Benjamin’s post-graduation malaise and reluctance to engage in the adult world; his awkward fumbling through an affair is juxtaposed with Anne Bancroft’s persistent and assured Mrs Robinson. However, his subsequent relationship with her daughter lacks any genuine connection, predominantly due to shallow writing that provides neither character with much depth; that either of them feels strongly enough to act as they do in the latter half of the film stretches credulity. Nichols’ direction is a mixed bag, displaying creative transitions between shots but indulging in visual metaphors that are laughably on the nose. The Simon & Garfunkel soundtrack provides a memorable and consistent tone, but repeated reuse of the same three songs becomes tedious, and does not always suit the scene. The Graduate never falls apart entirely and still earns some wry laughter in its later acts, but its trajectory is certainly downward trending.