Out of the past and my unending resentment of the goddamn Cinema 7 for not playing Hot Tub Time Machine comes this look at The Graduate, which I’ve been forced to conclude is either a film of its time that hasn’t aged well or one I’ve failed to understand, despite my best efforts. It’s hard to tell which, considering the timeliness of my reviewing the film: In less time than I care to admit, I, too, will have returned home to Los Angeles after graduating from a mysterious college on the east coast. Words fail to convey my great hope that I find life after college less disenchanting than does Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman), the title character.
The Graduate works best as a portrait of ’60s-era disillusionment, something no character showcases more clearly than Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft). We can tell almost instantly, just from the tone of her voice, what she’s up to: First the ride home from Ben, the request that he come inside, have a drink, listen to some music, and answer a series of personal questions. She’s long ago stopped caring about being subtle or preserving appearance; life for her is unfulfilling, and she’s looking for a distraction. We suspect what she’s doing before Ben does, but it’s not until he says something that these suspicions are confirmed—we know, but we don’t. Continue reading