I had never seen this movie- I know it’s a classic but there are so many classics and so little time I have during the day that isn’t spent thinking about my own shortcomings! But today I carved out an hour and a half to take some time off and watch this movie.
The Graduate stars Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, and some other people. It’s about Ben Braddock (Dustin) a recent college grad who is trying to ‘figure it all out.’ By “it” I mean what to do with his entire life. Ben! Slow down! Ride a skateboard for a minute! Sigh, but he won’t.
The movie opens on a welcome back/Congratulations! party for Ben, thrown by his parents and attended by all their family friends. He seems to have no friends of his own, nor do any of the other families seem to have children. MY KIND OF PARTY.
Everybody is vying for Ben’s time but he just wants to sit in front of his aquarium and think about his feelings gosh darn it. Shortly after the party begins, Mrs. Robinson, a family friend, asks him for a ride home. He reluctantly obliges and they go to her house. After a solid demonstration of the foot-in-the-door phenomenon (look it up) she manages to get Ben alone in a room with her while she is naked. He runs out very upset but not before she manages to yell, “Anytime you want me, give me a call.”
He has an awkward encounter with her husband downstairs, then runs out (He spends a lot of time running away from upsetting situations. I don’t have a degree in Symbolism but it seems like there’s something there). Some time passes and after Ben gets over his initial shock of seeing a married woman he’s known since childhood naked he remembers he should just sexualize her, and he changes his mind and gives her a call while passing some time at a local hotel bar. Just normal things twenty year olds do! She says “give me an hour” (bold) and then meets him. They get a room and I am 98% sure they have sex. I can’t be 100% sure because they turn the lights off and cut the scene shortly after they kiss.
Aside: The ONLY and I mean only reason I wanted to watch this movie was because I thought there were going to be some good sex scenes. There were not and I am VERY disappointed about it.
After this, Ben & Mrs. Robinson start a purely physical affair that seems empty and half-hearted for everyone. The one time Ben tries to have a conversation with her it ends with them both hurt and unhappy. We do learn some about Mrs. Robinson’s past from this foray into conversation: she got married because she was pregnant, she and her husband don’t have sex, she used to be an Art major and she never wants Ben to date her daughter. That last one seems pretty expected but Dustin gets all shaken up about it.
Meanwhile his own parents are getting pretty curious about what he does with his time when he’s not swimming pensively in the pool. His mother tries to question him but he evades her with the conversational grace of a blind figure skater (Are there any? I’m curious). They keep pressuring him to ask out Elaine, the Robinson’s daughter, who is home from Berkley. He refuses, until his mother threatens to invite the whole family over for dinner and he relents. (I felt like this should have raised some red flags for mom; usually dinner parties are not emotional bargaining chips, but she did not seem to think this was odd at all).
So Ben/Dustin takes Elaine out (to a strip club) and is a huge asshole to her and she runs away crying. He is overtaken by his own compassion and comforts her, until he is overtaken by her big eyes and they have a really good time on the date. They get burgers and fries and she stops crying and they talk about unhappiness, which is always a bonding moment. Deciding to get a drink somewhere after their fast food, Elaine suggests the bar at the local hotel (the one he frequents when he fucks her mom). He drives the car off the road at the suggestion but then pretends like everything is super chill. They go and the hotel staff recognizes Dustin but since they all call him the fake name he gave them (Gladstone, for anyone who’s thinking about getting into an affair) he can play it off. In the parking lot Elaine asks if he is having an affair (she’s very smart-she goes to Berkley). He confesses but says it’s all over without ever telling her who they are talking about.
After this date Dustin is like totally in crush with Elaine but her mom is all “Wtf we had sex don’t make out with my daughter even though she is age appropriate and I seduced you at a confusing time in your life” and Dustin is all “Wtf we ate some french fries and now we are in love, I will never stop seeing her.” Mrs. Robinson threatens to tell her daughter everything and then Dustin does before she can (kind of) and Elaine is super pissed and goes back to Berkley without saying goodbye or thank you for the french fries.
BUT Dustin is a true stalker at heart, I mean romantic, and he follows her to Berkley, gets an apartment there and starts sitting in on classes/following Elaine around. She’s pissed but then she is intrigued (If a woman ever seems to not like something at first, just keep doing it! Even if it’s a violation of her boundaries/it feels like you’re not respecting her as a human being!) They have this conversation where Elaine reveals that her mom told her Dustin raped her. This is fucked up for two reasons: first fucked up that a woman would lie about being raped but even more than that, fucked up that Elaine was still kind of flirting with him when she thought he raped her mom. Weird. Anyway he’s like, “Naw I didn’t rape your mom” and she’s like “Oh, cool.”
They have a weird courtship/interaction where immediately after the above exchange Dustin asks her to marry him and she’s like “idk” then he KEEPS asking, many many many times. Soon we find out there is ANOTHER dude who asked her to marry him (one who did not have sex with her mom repeatedly) and she just doesn’t know who to choose!
Then, MR. Robinson comes because his wife told him about the affair and he gets real mad and tells Dustin to leave his daughter alone. Shortly thereafter, Elaine and the other guy (who is blonde!!!!!) have a secret wedding. Dustin crashes it and starts screaming “Elaine” at the top of the church AFTER they’ve already been married. Everyone starts freaking out and in one of the weirdest scenes ever, she runs away with him but not before he uses a cross to beat everyone and lock them in the church (with the cross). They hop on a bus and in one of my favorite endings of a movie ever, the camera stays on their faces as they ride away and process what they’ve both just done. They both oscillate between excitement/regret/satisfaction so quickly, it’s very interesting to watch and incredibly realistic. Then the movie is over!
In general I liked the artistry of this movie better than the movie itself. I didn’t really care about the characters but the individual scenes were interesting and funny and beautiful. Simon and Garfunkel did the soundtrack (mostly) and it made me wish they scored every movie. My favorite part about the music was that during sad/intense scenes the music was light and happy which somehow highlighted the emotions more, rather than detracting or contradicting them.
5/10 would not masturbate again, even though the music was great