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graduates from his east coast college with academic accolades and track
medals aplenty, and no clue about what to do with the rest of his life.
He makes the trip back home to California, where his parents can't stop
bragging about Ben's college achievements, except when they take a break
to pester him about his plans for the future. His affluent folks and
their equally well-off friends are all eager to give Ben advice
("One word: plastics!"), but Ben's a bit repelled by their
superficial lifestyle, and not at all certain he's eager to jump into
that world. Mostly, Ben just kind of wants to be left alone, so he can
have a nice, quiet summer, and mull over what he really wants to do with
his life. But at the end of a party at his parents' place one night, he
finds himself roped into driving home Mrs. Robinson, the wife of a
family friend -- and Ben's life is soon thrown for a loop. Mrs. Robinson
has great legs and a throaty voice, and she makes inexperienced young
Benjamin very, very nervous indeed. She propositions him, in one of the
funniest seduction scenes ever, and the two begin meeting regularly at a
local hotel. It's just sex, but when Ben unexpectedly falls in love with
Mrs. Robinson's pretty young daughter, Elaine, Mrs. Robinson is
decidedly not pleased. Soon, Ben finds himself scorned by a bitter and
somewhat unhinged ex-mistress, her cuckolded husband, and an
ex-girlfriend who never wants to see him again. Still, for the first
time all summer, Ben's finally figured out what he wants, which is why
he'll do whatever it takes to win Elaine back.
The last time I saw The Graduate was during my sophomore year of
college. I remember thinking it was kind of amusing, but somewhat dated
-- and the fact that it opened with Simon and Garfunkel doing "The
Sound of Silence," a song my 7th grade music teacher used to make
us sing, didn't help the slightly dorky feel. It's weird what a
difference a few (okay, maybe a bit more) years can make, because when I
watched The Graduate again a few days ago, I was amazed at how
timeless it seems now. Ben Braddock's post-college angst would have been
excruciatingly familiar -- if it weren't for the fact that The
Graduate is such a funny, funny movie. It makes you laugh at those
universal quasi-adult worries over entering a "real" world
you're not sure you're like, even while it acknowledges that, yeah,
you're probably right to be at least a little afraid. In a performance
that would make him a star, Dustin Hoffman does a terrific job of
capturing how awkward and out-of-place Ben feels in the grown-up world
in which everybody else seems convinced he now belongs. As for Anne
Bancroft's Mrs. Robinson, she's 100% pure sexy, with just the right
amount of crazy thrown in for good, absurdly amusing, measure. An
offbeat and darkly comic look at generation gaps, post-graduation
dilemmas, and the unpredictability of falling in love, The Graduate
is a true classic that angsty twentysomethings of any era are sure to
by Yee-Fan Sun
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