“Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me. Aren't you?” – Benjamin Braddock
To my knowledge besides “The Graduate” there has been no other movie that has handled an affair between a young man and an older woman with a humorous tone to it, a relationship that is a taboo in any society has always been handled with care and sensitivity on the screen (“The Reader” a latest addition to that genre). But “The Graduate” is quite different, the baby faced Dustin Hoffman and the gorgeous Anne Bancroft share some sensuous scenes laced with dry humor. Dustin Hoffman may not have played any larger than life character like a Pacino or a Deniro or a Nicholson, yet he has always excelled in playing an ordinary everyday kind of character to whom we could relate. Benjamin Braddock of "The Graduate" is one among the many common, realistic characters that Dustin Hoffman had gone on to so effortlessly essay. He shines as the naïve and gullible Benjamin, a character in whom we all can see a bit of ourselves shy, unsure, clumsy at times, this will be one of his famous portrayals on screen. His initial scenes with the seductive and strong minded Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft) set the tone for the rest of their encounters. The scene where Benjamin calls up Mrs. Robinson to meet her at the hotel and the way he tries to impress her by trying to look under control are sure to bring more than a smile on your face. Benjamin starts as a young confused individual in the beginning of the movie, but by the time his stormy relationship ends with Mrs. Robinson, Benjamin grows on to be a man completely sure of what he wants.
Enter Elaine Robinson (Katharine Ross) daughter of the Robinson’s, in spite of Mrs. Robinson’s pleas and warnings Benjamin is forced to date her (by his parents initially), a reluctant Benjamin at first tries to repel her by being aggressive, a complete opposite of the Benjamin we saw in the beginning of the movie, but falls in love with her much to Mrs. Robinson’s ire who goes all the way in trying to break their relationship,the latter half may look like one borrowed from a Bollywood love story with the boy wooing the girl and the usual trouble that comes with it. The direction is quite solid and the dilemmas that Benjamin goes through have been well presented on screen.The scene where his parents show off their son to their friends during the barbeque egging on Benjamin in that clumsy swimsuit, and in the hotel where Benjamin and Mrs. Robinson decide to hit the sack, and Benjamin’s recurring dream when he is in the pool are some scenes well directed. Anne Bancroft as the seductive and ruthless yet insecure Mrs. Robinson is a treat to watch, all the supporting cast play their role quite well. This movie is more than an illicit relationship between a young man and an older woman, hidden behind it is the growing up of a confused and clumsy boy to a man who knows what he wants.
“The Graduate” depicts the rebellious form of love, where Benjamin goes all out to conquer the girl he cant have, a theme which has been used many a times till date. But this is the one that set the bar for other rebellious love stories to catch up with. A love story with a plot where the hero romances the mother as well as her daughter must have raised some eyebrows back then, but the light- hearted way in which "The Graduate" had been handled well deserved the best director oscar for Mike Nichols.