Well, this film has helped me discover one or two things I'm not particularly a fan of. I've seen 2 films from director Mike Nichols prior to this one. Earlier this year, I caught Catch-22 (no pun intended); it's a favorite book of mine... not so good of a movie. And a while back, I saw Closer... which I was totally not a fan of. But The Graduate is a super-classic, and it's almost film-fan suicide to dislike it. So... did I?
If you're unaware, the film is about recent college grad Ben (Dustin Hoffman) who is seduced by a friend of his parents, Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft). Ben is shy and totally against it at first, but eventually gives into the affair. Unfortunately, it leads to a relationship with her daughter, Elaine (Katharine Ross), which neither parent approves of.
There were some things I liked about the movie and some things I didn't. Let's start with the negative so we can end on a more positive note. First of all, I found myself having trouble liking... any... of the characters. Ben was a pushover at first, and then he turns more reckless and a little crazy. Mrs. Robinson is just a crazy word-I-won't-say. And Elaine is the type who would tell two different guys she would marry them (though unsure) after pretty much one date each. Don't get me wrong, it was great acting all around... but my main focus? Realizing that Dustin Hoffman's dad in the movie is Mr. Feeny!
I also realized that I'm apparently not a fan of Simon and Garfunkel. I was not a fan of the music of this film at all. In fact, it drove me kind of crazy. Normally I can deal with it, but when they just play the same songs over and over and over, it gets a bit grating.
Somewhere in the middle between like and dislike is the climax and ending. The climax is just insane and feels marginally unrealistic. It was just a bit cartoonish. But the actual ending and the ambiguity of it all was good. I also appreciated the fact that Ben (SPOILER) apparently can't stay away from married women (END SPOILER).
What did I like, though? I loved the camera work. The movie found so many brilliant angles and spots to place the camera, giving us some fantastic moments. And not only the camera work, but the way things were edited together, too (like transitions between scenes that seemed to be fluid and single takes). You see that kind of stuff all the time now, but it was probably rather innovative back then. So basically, all the technical visuals of the film were a real treat. It was totally my favorite part of the movie.
Despite the mostly negative review, I didn't hate the movie. I just didn't love it. I had a hard time getting into it past the camera stuff. Hoffman's performance was great, but after the first 45 or so minutes, his personality shifts into something a little less relatable. Really, it's a masterfully made film. I just had problems getting into it, more for personal taste reasons than anything else.