Graduation Screen 25 articles



Graduation Poster
  • I wonder how many members of this jury has seen any films from the Romanian New Wave, as that’s the only explanation for giving Best Director to former juror Mungiu, whose Graduation is, simply put, a boring procession of unglamorously framed two-shots touching on this most well-trod of plot lines and unresolvable moral conundrums.

  • The moral transgression has its inevitable repercussions, but the end result feels a bit too tidy, and it can not but suffer from comparisons to Sieranevada; whereas Puiu pushes the boundaries of form and plot-structure, Mungiu prefers, both stylistically and narratively, to remain within a certain comfort zone.

  • The only thing more preordained than the direction, narrative structure, rhythm, colour palette, and general sense of morality on display in Cristian Mungiu’s latest film is that you are going to see it—because it is an Important Work of World Cinema from the man who is still the only Palme d’Or-winning director to have been born in Romania.

  • All of Mungiu's searing irony - that Romania is a cesspool and no one can stay clean no matter how far above it one tries to remain - is all a bit shallow. But then I tended to feel the same way about the Kafkaesque horror show Mungiu orchestrated for the two young women in 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days, a film now considered a modern classic. There's a kind of jury-rigging in his films that results from the too-convenient overlay of narrative contrivance and political critique.

  • It’s a film of generic social realism, of an international style of no style, that proclaims a fidelity to reality, to the external details of characters’ lives—at least, to those few that fall through the narrow sieve of the filmmaker’s intentions and designs... It is cinema-by-the-yard, the kind of pseudo-sophisticated self-congratulation that could serve as virtual art-house fan service, the marker of a social group’s identifying attitudes rather than a creation of independent substance.

  • Although this latest realist slice of life satisfies on many levels, fans expecting another scorcher from one of the Romanian New Wave’s premier-league directors are likely to feel mildly disappointed... Sure, it has Mungiu’s usual visual brio, and thematically there’s a noticeable overlap with his previous stories of good-intentions reaping cruel rewards. But it’s an altogether cooler, quieter, more academic work than usual.

  • Had I seen Graduation in, say, 2004, I’m pretty sure that it would have mightily impressed me, as it’s an expertly calibrated portrait of what happens when someone starts down a slippery slope of well-intentioned malfeasance. Watching it this morning, however, I found myself sort of nodding along with every uncertain step the protagonist takes, as each one conforms to what I now think of as the Romanian New Wave template.

  • It’s a very compelling and troubling piece that satisfies as drama, yet also leaves enough loose ends and whispers of symbolic import to suggest that there’s a lot more going on than some of my more skeptical colleagues have suggested.

  • Deftly scripted and for the most part very well acted, the film is perhaps a little too relentless in attending to its single overarching theme, but its careful pacing ensures that it is consistently intriguing and watchable.

  • Mungiu is very good at conspicuously handheld compositions that are seemingly arrived at casually, but his work is often semi-invisibly immaculate... The film is funny in a kind of state-of-the-nation, burn-it-all-down way and wrought with care throughout, but two hours of this is ultimately too much... That said, I’m always up for another round of the bleakest comedy possible — if you enjoy this particular pocket of humor, which is a very acquired taste, go forth.

  • Graduation may not exude the visceral power of 4 Month, 3 Weeks and 2 Days and Beyond the Hills, but it may be more incisive and powerful as social commentary because of its more subtle observation of the world. Mungiu's film is more than just a cry of despair toward the hopelessness of life in modern-day Romania, but a close examination of a character whose moral compromises ultimately make him not that much different from the societal forces he believes he's fighting against.

  • Mungiu’s 2007 Cannes champ 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days—still the highest profile of any of the country’s recent exports—also employed a ticking-clock structure, wrestling with moral dilemmas it didn’t presume to solve. Graduation is rather less harrowing, but likewise scrubbed of any of the escapism usually connoted by the word “thriller,” and still resonant in its picture of a society where history’s scars remain freshly tender.

  • The film ultimately registers as a scrupulous study of family life in collision with the national pastime of influence peddling. But it’s a testament to the clarity and intensity of Mungiu’s vision that one has grown to expect a little more from him.

  • These counterpointed expectations are never reconciled — even Eliza has doubts about studying abroad, as she grows more and more attached to her biker boyfriend. The multidirectional pull of these various desires is an effective parallel for the context Mungiu seeks to critique — freedom from institutionalised corruption can only come about through collective effort, but orchestration is near impossible when everyone wants freedom for different reasons.

  • As detailed and perceptive as it is, this also feels like [Mungiu's] most academic film, as the tenor of the performances and the general mellowness of the discourse mean that florid emotion is noticeable in its absence. It’s a cold world full of cold people who are just trying to get by, but Mungiu’s greatest achievement is making us understand why Romeo is doing what he does, and how he is silently suffers with his blackened conscience.

  • A beautifully crafted work of storytelling that resonates long after you see it... In a way, if there’s anything faulty about Graduation it’s that you can put it inside a nutshell, but that doesn’t diminish the pleasure of watching the careful un- and re-spinning of the web of compromises here, the massaging of influences that, on this evidence, has pervasively made up middle-class Romanian life.

  • ...This is not to say that Mungiu’s films are rote exercises in blunt statement-making, but at the same time one wouldn’t accuse them of subtlety. Though we never lose sight of Romeo, Eliza, Sandra, and Magda as individuals, Graduation continually broadens out through a series of institutional representatives (school, police, law, government) such that by the end, the entirety of society seems implicated in fixing the exam for Eliza.

  • ...Also taking place in Romania, this time told from the point of view of the father (the teenage daughter, excellently played by Maria Dragus, remains a cipher) is Baccalauréat that plunges into some troubled waters of ethical ambiguity... It's a sombre film... but it bears in common the fact that, in father-daughter relationships there is no pre-written script. Everyone wears a mask, everyone fumbles, love is never enough, it’s too much, or not enough, or misguided.

  • As in 4 Months, Graduation ends on an unexpectedly upbeat note: although narrative threads are left tantalisingly dangling (to underscore the abiding theme that poor decisions can have lifelong repercussions), there’s a legitimate reason for Eliza to sport a hesitant but genuine smile in the final shot – a rarity in this grim but riveting film.

  • In a typically bold directorial decision, Cristian Mungiu, who in 2008 guided audiences through a Ceaușescu-era maze of underhand payoffs with 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, allows the most crucial phone call of the film to play out in a different room while the camera follows Romeo’s lover elsewhere... Superbly acted, and photographed and edited with forensic precision, this is Romanian cinema at its best.

  • A well-crafted drama that pays attention to every detail. Yet Mungiu has not attempted to exhaust his audience with a totally predictable narrative. Instead, he brings elements of mystery and surprise into the story to make us question the situation. This is the conception that the director has regarding the relationship between cinema and reality.

  • It’s tempting to call Cristian Mungiu’s Graduation a nightmare vision of a small Transylvanian town, but what’s truly haunting about the movie is how casually almost everyone in it accedes to corruption and pettiness.

  • A fascinating and fastidiously complex study of one man’s moral choices at a crucial juncture in his life, Cristian Mungiu’s “Graduation” is a thoroughgoing masterpiece which offers proof that Romania’s cinematic upsurge remains the most vital and important national film movement of the current century.

  • One of the best films I’ve ever seen about corruption... Graduation is about relatively mundane occurrences, but as Romeo is pulled further and further from his moral certainty, the film becomes incredibly gripping and unsettling. Mungiu’s subtle visual style also enhances the suspense, plunging Romeo further into darkness as he falls deeper down the well.

  • There’s almost no shot in Graduation that isn’t a single or dual portrait. The camera never roams an interior or a landscape. Nor does it ever retreat into the far distance, or into gruesome close-ups. Everything is shot from the neat distance of a conversation—or an audience. Maybe every film director has to find ways of refusing the forms of theater. That’s one lesson of Graduation.

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