The Graduate | Film Review

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It's the movie that helped the reputation of "Sounds of Silence" by Simon and Garfunkel, and coined the term "Mrs. Robinson" to describe an older woman with a... well, wandering eye on younger guys. It's a timeless classic. 
   Released in 1967 and directed by Mike Nichols, the film stars budding and classic household names of the 60s: Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, and Katharine Ross in the lead roles of recent college graduate Benjamin Braddock, Mrs. Robinson, and Elaine — Mrs. Robinson's daughter who strikes an interest in Benjamin, respectively. 

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Fresh out of college, Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) returns to his parents' home in Southern California to stave off the pressures of finding a job soon or any aspirations of higher education. His parents throw him a congratulations party where all their equally rich and privileged friends esteem him, and he runs into Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft) again. 
   Bored and trapped in a loveless marriage with her cold lawyer of a husband, Mrs. Robinson takes this chance to get at Benjamin for the fun of it. Clearly uncomfortable by Mrs. Robinson's advances, Benjamin doesn't dare to rebuff her advances immediately because he was raised as a part of society and to be polite as heck. Eventually, he gives in to her, and it's bye-bye to Benjamin's original plan of spending the summer looking for a graduate school or any plans of a job. By day, he's lounging around his parents' pool, but by night, he's meeting Mrs. Robinson for nightly a rendezvous. 
   By the middle of summer, Elaine Robinson (Katharine Ross) comes home for the summer from UC Berkeley. Despite pressures from his parents and her father to ask Elaine out, Benjamin clearly has his doubts, mainly due to the fact Mrs. Robinson disapproves. Honestly though, how the heck would you explain to your parents that you don't want to ask out this girl because you're secretly boning her twenty-something-years-older mother, who is also a family friend? Exactly. 

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Despite Benjamin being a flat-out jerk on his first date with her, she still takes a shine on Benjamin and clearly pursues him. At this point, Benjamin develops feelings for Elaine as well, and this is where it gets complicated, my friends. Mrs. Robinson makes it explicitly clear to Benjamin that if he pursues Elaine anymore, she will unleash the gory details of their nightly romps to their families. She claims to say that Benjamin coerced her into it, not the other way around like the actual truth. Benjamin is caught at a crossroads, since he genuinely likes Elaine, but enjoys his "family-friends-with-benefits" (can I even call it that?) with Mrs. Robinson. At this point, Benjamin feels pressured to keep quiet because if the truth got out, his reputation and relationships would be over. 
   The truth eventually comes out when Benjamin continues to pursue Elaine, and Mrs. Robinson wants to put a stop to this. Absolutely disgusted, Elaine returns back to Berkeley and cuts off all contact with Benjamin. He chases her across half the state of California, only to find out that she has no plans of even acknowledging him and her father promising that if Benjamin even dares to see Elaine, Benjamin will be thrown behind bars. 
   Elaine later chooses to marry one of her classmates, Carl, to put an end to this Benjamin-Mrs. Robinson saga, and to find some peace in her life. Benjamin now sees where his priorities are and regardless, continues to chase Elaine, not giving a single care about Mrs. Robinson. He chases the Robinsons all the way back down to Southern California, only to be standing on the other side of a window, looking in on Elaine with a white dress and veil on, about to say "I do" to a man that isn't him. Taken over by his feelings, Ben calls off the wedding and screams for Elaine to come to her senses. Mrs. Robinson steps up to forbid Elaine of running away with Ben, but Elaine uses this opportunity to break free of her mother and escapes hand in hand with Ben. 
   The last glimpse we get of the two are of them sitting together on the back of a bus, Elaine still in her wedding dress, but both are somewhat relieved to be able to discover a new beginning together. 

A truly timeless classic about what might happen from spur-of-the-moment decisions and instincts, Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft poignantly depict one of the most unconventional love stories of all time. 

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