Review: Graduation

Director: Cristian MungiuStarring: Adrian Titieni, Maria-Victoria Dragus, Malina ManoviciRelease Date: 31st MarchRuntime: 128 minutes[br]SET in modern day Romania, Graduation (titled Bacalaureat in Romania) focuses on the lengths a parent will go to ensure the best for their child. Romeo (Adrian Titieni) is a successful doctor in a small town in Romania who has raised his daughter Eliza (Maria-Victoria Dragus) with the intention that when she finishes school she will leave Romania to study abroad.Everything has gone according to plan and Eliza has been offered two conditional scholarships to study in the UK; however, the day before she is to sit her final exams she is assaulted outside the school. Now, Romeo must break his own moral code and ensure his daughter gets out of the country and doesn’t make the same mistakes he made with his life.
“A hyper-realistic portrait of life in this small Romanian town.”
Director Christian Mungiu creates a hyper-realistic portrait of life in this small Romanian town. On a technical level, it is a well-made effort which paints the town in a dismal light, saturated in a grey hue of depression.Gradutation has no musical score which amplifies, hauntingly, every little noise from the clanking of glass to the peeling of fruit. Each character is depicted with unflinching honesty and every actor in the movie plays their part straight, without overacting, in keeping with the dark subject matter.
“At many times during the movie the audience is expecting something to happen but then nothing does.”
This film was a critical darling at Cannes and other film festivals when it debuted last year. Despite its many awards and nominations, however, to the casual cinema-goer it fails to impress. The storyline, while deeply psychological, seems incomplete and never reaches the anticipated heights. It does, however, properly portray the corruption and the culture of favour-trading that exists in post-Ceau?escu Romania.At many times during the movie the audience is expecting something to happen but then nothing does. Intensity builds, the director uses long takes and Titieni acts convincingly but the build-up almost always leads to disappointment. It feels as if many storylines were considered but in the end, didn’t make the final cut. What remains are opportunities for the audience to craft their own solutions to the problems Romeo and Eliza face. Nevertheless, with a runtime of over two hours, some answers are expected.[br]In a nutshell: An intense, well-made drama in which not much actually happens.