When I sat down to watch The Graduate, I only knew its famous last scene where the characters drive off in a bus, looking sad and defeated. There wasn’t even a moment where I thought this is the movie with the famous “Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me!” quote!! Like, this is where the Mrs. Robinson figure of speech comes from. A bit baffled by it, I continued watching and here are my final thoughts.
The entire film is actually more okay than good. The strongest element is the idea behind the film and the main theme is intriguing. But The Graduate for me felt rushed especially when it needed to slow things down. I was mostly unimpressed by the way Ben’s (Dustin Hoffman) character had months with Mrs. Robinson, and it took him just one date to fall for Elaine. Yes, they had history but the set up for them for that final scene wasn’t patient enough for it all to feel real. So I didn’t believe their relationship at all.
Since we’ve have had numerous other Mrs. Robinson type films since then, the weaknesses of The Graduate start to show. The movie doesn’t really go deep enough into the characters, it fast forwards a lot of the important character development moments, and it abruptly throws us from one story line into another. The movie had all sorts of themes and topics, that it briefly gazed over and never really discussed.
“Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me!”
I guess what I’m trying to say is that, while the plot was shocking, the exploration of it was shallow. Plus, to have two people so in love they run off together despite all that baggage? I didn’t believe that for a second! Besides, the way the female characters are portrayed in this film really lacks imagination. They are very boxed into stereotypes, and frankly, I didn’t care for it that much.
Finally, I do feel like I’m being too harsh on The Graduate. It’s an interesting movie, and it definitely paved the way for many movies similar to this. But after seeing so many movies this year, and really good ones too, I feel like The Graduate fell flat next to them. It’s not easy to tell a compelling story while you have the likes of The Shining and Taxi Driver to compete with. That being said, The Graduate is not a bad film, it’s just an underdeveloped one.