Graduation DVD review

In his third film Palme d’Or winner Christian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 weeks and 2 Days (2007), Beyond the Hills download(2012)) continues his nuanced exploration of characters dealing with moral crises in a corrupt, hostile environment where the “law of the jungle” forces well-meaning characters to take risks.

The film works largely on how Romeo deals with the mounting pressure on him to play the system and rig Eliza’s exam results. Titieni provides a beautifully naturalistic and three-dimensional portrait of an idealistic man who started off with hopes to change what he saw around him, but who ends up wearied and disillusioned by his inability to do so. We see why he puts so much hope in his daughter escaping this situation (the subtle cinematography by Tudor Vladimir Panduru shows the drab, ugly nature of a town that looks half-built, whilst the rock that gets mysteriously thrown at Romeo’s flat window emphasises the growing sense of all-pervading threat and disruption). Even though as Dragus so sensitively plays it, she is only lukewarm to the idea and wavering/rebelling under so much pressure to conform to his ideals.

download (7)Romeo, this film makes clear is a hypocrite. He keeps a mistress and is a coward in confronting the situation with both his wife and his mistress, and yet has strong opinions against the boy Eliza is dating.  His wife Magda (also sensitively played by Lia Bugnar) is weary of his dogmatic ways and wants him to leave his daughter alone to make up her own mind. He is flawed but we see him trying to do the right thing (known as an ‘honest doctor’ who is one of the only ones who doesn’t accept bribes) who only wants the best for his daughter.

Mungiu then makes it a universal humanistic story, a point emphasised by the naturalistic and nuanced Graduation - Romeo, Magda - i - cropDardennesque/Loachian-like performances he gets from his great cast. It’s not just a film about the corruption of Romanian bureaucracy (though that is inescapable), but one about what it means to be a parent in an uncaring environment. And about what it means to be an upstanding example to your children when you are only an imperfect human.

Special features are a little on the thrifty side, the trailer and an interview with the director, providing a bit more context but mostly talking amiably about films he likes.

About The Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.