Keep up-to-date on your favourite artists and movies, track gig and release dates, and join in the conversation.
SEARCH RESULTS FOR
Daniel shares one of his favourite Disney films, ‘The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad’, on a new episode of Ink & Paint!x
review, Graduation, Graduation, film, movie, latest movies, new movie, movie ratings, current movie reviews, latest films, recent movies, current movies, movie critics, new movie reviews, latest movie reviews, latest movies out, the latest movies, review film, latest cinema releases, Australian reviews, cinema, cinema reviews, Adrian Titieni, Maria Dragus, Lia Bugnar, Malina Manovici, Vlad Ivanov, Gelu Colceag, Rares Andrici, Ioachim Ciobanu, Cristian Mungiu, Crime, Drama film rating

GRADUATION

★★

THE ROLE OF A PARENT LEFT UNEXPLORED

SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW
LATEST REVIEWS
By Daniel Lammin
4th June 2017

Romanian writer and director Cristian Mungiu has established himself as a major international filmmaker over the course of a small selection of films, from the devastating Palme d'Or winning '4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days' to the haunting religious drama 'Beyond The Hills'. Both these major films revealed an astute, uncompromising eye, unafraid to approach controversial material but doing so with quiet humanity. With his latest film 'Graduation', Mungiu turns his attention to the complex dynamics of the relationship between father and daughter, and what happens when the intimacy of that relationship is tested.

Romeo (Adrian Titieni) wants the best for his daughter Eliza (Maria Dragus), who has the opportunity to study in the UK and leave the small Transylvanian town where they live. Her final exams are compromised though when she becomes the victim of an assault, and in his determination to make sure his daughter has a better life than he has, considers drastic and illegal actions to make sure it happens.

'Graduation' finds Mungiu demonstrating the same formal rigour and restraint that made his previous films such impressive and emotional experiences, but in this case the material itself doesn't have quite the same impact. The emotional stakes are definitely high, but Romeo ends up being a difficult character to connect to, and by making him the central focus of the film, it suffers as a result. His motives are understandable, but he acts with an increasing lack of consideration for others, including Eliza, and the film itself offers little commentary or dissection of his actions. This may be Mungiu's intention, to leave space for the audience to come to their own decision, but in a film where the female characters play secondary roles to the men both in narrative function and in agency, it ends up being another film about middle-aged white men using their clout as middle-aged white men to assert their power against one another. By circumnavigating legal channels, Romeo shows surprisingly little regard for his daughter and her intelligence, and coupled with the disregard for both his wife Magda (Lia Bugnar) and mistress Sandra (Malina Manovici), it complicates the sexual politics to the extent where you find yourself against Romeo as opposed to supportive of him. Again, this ambiguity may be the point, but where that observational quality worked so well in Mungiu's favour before, it does less so here.

WATCH: 'GRADUATION'

It's hard to really pinpoint the things that let 'Graduation' down because the film also seems to be lacking any immediacy or drive. The film moves at a laborious pace, unsupported by a clear narrative drive, and while the structure follows the kind of docudrama form of realism that should serve this kind of story, it prevents the film from being a satisfying experience. There's also a lot of ambiguity to the film, the implication that someone is directly responsible for the grief being caused to Romeo and his family, but it ends up feeling derivative of Michael Hanake's 'Hidden' (2005) and without earning the right to ask these kinds of questions without answering them. That same lack of enthusiasm permeates the performances. Adrian Titieni does a fine job as Romeo, but his performance is as lacking in drive as the film itself. In the end, the emotional heart of the film comes from the women, specifically Maria Dragus and Lia Bugnar.

It's hard to really pinpoint the things that let 'Graduation' down because the film also seems to be lacking any immediacy or drive.

After two genuinely affecting films, it's a surprise that Cristian Mungiu's 'Graduation' incites such little enthusiasm. Its intentions are unclear, its characters are hard to connect with and its cold, objective approach robs the narrative of any of its emotional potential. It's hard to know what you're supposed to take away from the film, making it yet another European film that seems to be more concerned with the weight of its own self-importance. I'm sure there's a great film in there and that I'll be in the minority about this one, but if 'Graduation' is supposed to offer questions on the human experience and the complexities of being a parent, it doesn't ask them in a way that makes you want to seek the answers.

FAST FACTS
RELEASE DATE: 08/06/2017
RUN TIME: 2h 8m
CAST: Adrian Titieni
Maria Dragus
Lia Bugnar
Malina Manovici
Vlad Ivanov
Gelu Colceag
Rares Andrici
Ioachim Ciobanu
WRITER/DIRECTOR/PRODUCER: Cristian Mungiu
TOP-RATED REVIEWS
Looking for more Sydney Film Festival reviews? Click here to check out our collection of this year's highlights.
Pain and Glory - Antonio Banderas' unforgettable drama
TRENDINGWIN PAIN AND GLORYAntonio Banderas' unforgettable drama
xXx: Return Of Xander Cage - The good, the bad and the ugly
TRENDINGxXx: RETURN OF XANDER CAGEThe good, the bad and the ugly
Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse - Fairly brainless
TRENDINGSCOUTS GUIDE TO THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSEFairly brainless
Never Rarely Sometimes Always - The film every teenager needs to see
TRENDINGNEVER RARELY SOMETIMES ALWAYSThe film every teenager needs to see
Dirt Music - A typically flawed Tim Winton adaptation
TRENDINGDIRT MUSICA typically flawed Tim Winton adaptation
25 Free-to-Watch Short Horror Films - The scariest shorts we uncovered online
TRENDING25 FREE-TO-WATCH SHORT HORROR FILMSThe scariest shorts we uncovered online
The Violin Player - Sex and strings
TRENDINGTHE VIOLIN PLAYERSex and strings
Revisiting 'Dark City' 20 years later - The most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
TRENDINGREVISITING 'DARK CITY' 20 YEARS LATERThe most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
A Resistance - A sombre portrait of faith and courage
TRENDINGA RESISTANCEA sombre portrait of faith and courage
Malila: The Farewell Flower - Contemplating love and loss
TRENDINGMALILA: THE FAREWELL FLOWERContemplating love and loss
Over the Limit - A real-life psychological thriller
TRENDINGOVER THE LIMITA real-life psychological thriller
After We Collided - Wattpad returns to the screen for slightly better, still dumb, results
TRENDINGAFTER WE COLLIDEDWattpad returns to the screen for slightly better, still dumb, results
Swans: Where Does a Body End? - An exhaustive look at an exhausting band
TRENDINGSWANS: WHERE DOES A BODY END?An exhaustive look at an exhausting band
Basic Instinct - 25 years of the erotic thriller
TRENDINGBASIC INSTINCT25 years of the erotic thriller
Romantic Road - Falling in love with India, the Rolls Royce and each other
TRENDINGROMANTIC ROADFalling in love with India, the Rolls Royce and each other
The Odd Family: Zombie on Sale - An extremely silly zomedy
TRENDINGTHE ODD FAMILY: ZOMBIE ON SALEAn extremely silly zomedy
Sputnik - A familiar, lethal, movie monster
TRENDINGSPUTNIKA familiar, lethal, movie monster
Antebellum - Socially conscious horror without any finesse or cleverness
TRENDINGANTEBELLUMSocially conscious horror without any finesse or cleverness
Trolls World Tour - Poppy and the gang are back - and rocking harder than ever
TRENDINGTROLLS WORLD TOURPoppy and the gang are back - and rocking harder than ever
Jungle - A true story told poorly
TRENDINGJUNGLEA true story told poorly
© 2011 - 2020 midnightproductions
All rights reserved

Support SWITCH | Disclaimer | Contact Us