The Graduate | Movie review
Mike Nichols’s classic seduces us again.
“Plastics”: Was postcollegiate aimlessness ever more hilariously encapsulated than in that oft-quoted piece of nonadvice? Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) comes off as a brooding nebbish—hardly the star athlete everyone says he is—and a prime target for Real Housewife of Los Angeles County Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft). Mike Nichols’s milestone has its own alluring powers: It’s consistently fleet and funny, even as it probes the abandon and looming hangover that typified the decade of discontent. Mrs. Robinson is pure cougar caricature, all bra-strap tan lines, predatory poses and garish wardrobe—yet Bancroft makes her into a tragic figure, a woman saddled with a life she never wanted and all too aware of her fading bloom. It’s befuddled Ben we’re left with, but Mrs. Robinson we mourn for.