Ben has recently graduated from college, with his parents now expecting great things from him. At his "Homecoming" party, Mrs. Robinson, the wife of his father's business partner, has Ben drive her home, which leads to an affair between the two. The affair eventually ends, but comes back to haunt him when he finds himself falling for Elaine, Mrs. Robinson's daughter. Written by
Mike Nichols said that the use of images to suggest Ben is "underwater" and out of his depth in life --e.g., the fish tank, the pool, the scuba outfit--was deliberate, although he didn't care if anyone noted this or not. He also emphasized the use of glass as barriers with people cut off from each other and the life around them. See more »
The Robinsons are always able to draw fresh ice from the ice bucket on their bar, even after they have been away at a party, presumably for several hours. See more »
Ladies and gentlemen, we are about to begin our descent into Los Angeles. The sound you just heard is the landing gear locking into place. Los Angeles weather is clear; temperature is 72. We expect to make our 4 hour and 18 minute flight on schedule. We have enjoyed having you on board, and look forward to seeing you again in the near future.
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I'm not sure why evil, decadent Mrs. Robinson sets her sights on dazed and shy college grad Benjamin Braddock, son of the middle-aged couple she and her husband socialize with; it's never really explained, and neither is Benjamin's sexual past (it's hinted that he's a virgin when they end up in a hotel room together). It's also not explained why Mrs. Robinson definitely does not want Benjamin to get to know her daughter (she's angrily adamant about it, even willing to expose her own affair to prevent the two kids from going out for a drive!). Despite the gaps in the narrative and the lapses in logic (and taste, some might say), "The Graduate" is still a landmark film, crystallizing the helplessness of the '60s. Surprisingly, the ultimate theme of the movie is love--an impulsive, rebellious kind of love, but still the rather old-fashioned notion of love conquering all. And yet this brings up another question: is Benjamin really in love with sweet college girl Elaine or is she just a conquest? Or maybe the best thorn he can stick in Mrs. Robinson's side? Benjmain is told he cannot see her, he cannot have her, and that surely fuels his desire to marry her. The film presents love as the answer, but then (with an amusing, sobering final shot) second-guesses itself. "The Graduate" doesn't dig too deeply, it's lightweight (even with Dustin Hoffman's outburst in the church--the only time the movie gets some fury going), but it does take chances; it wasn't ahead of its time, it just came along at the right time and is still a relevant, glossy modern comedy. ***1/2 from ****
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